(19)
(11)EP 4 036 499 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
03.08.2022 Bulletin 2022/31

(21)Application number: 22163547.7

(22)Date of filing:  27.04.2016
(51)International Patent Classification (IPC): 
F25D 23/02(2006.01)
F25D 29/00(2006.01)
F16H 1/20(2006.01)
F16H 19/04(2006.01)
(52)Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC):
F25D 29/00; F25D 23/028; F25D 2700/04; E05Y 2400/858; E05Y 2900/31; E05F 15/619; E05F 15/73; E05F 2015/765; E05Y 2400/44
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR

(30)Priority: 11.06.2015 KR 20150082346
05.01.2016 KR 20160001271

(62)Application number of the earlier application in accordance with Art. 76 EPC:
20200557.5 / 3795793
16805961.6 / 3155336

(71)Applicant: LG Electronics Inc.
SEOUL 07336 (KR)

(72)Inventors:
  • SHIN, Jaehoon
    08592 Seoul (KR)
  • KANG, Myoungju
    08592 Seoul (KR)
  • KIM, Dongjeong
    08592 Seoul (KR)

(74)Representative: Vossius & Partner Patentanwälte Rechtsanwälte mbB 
Siebertstraße 3
81675 München
81675 München (DE)

 
Remarks:
This application was filed on 22-03-2022 as a divisional application to the application mentioned under INID code 62.
 


(54)REFRIGERATOR AND CONTROL METHOD FOR REFRIGERATOR


(57) Provided is a refrigerator and control method for refrigerator and method for opening a refrigerator door. While a user is holding an object in both hands, a door may be automatically and additionally opened using another part of a body other than hands.




Description

Technical Field



[0001] A refrigerator and a control method for refrigerator are disclosed herein

Background Art



[0002] Generally, a refrigerator is a home appliance which stores food at a low temperature in a storage space formed therein to be opened and closed by a door. To this end, the refrigerator is formed to cool an inside of the storage space using cooling air generated through heat exchange with a refrigerant circulated in a refrigeration cycle, and thus to keep the stored food in an optimum state.

[0003] Recent refrigerators have tended to become bigger and have multi-functions according to a change in diet and a tendency toward high-quality of a product. And the refrigerators which have various devices for convenience to enhance user convenience have been released.

[0004] The storage space of the refrigerator may be opened and closed by a door. And typically, the door has a gasket to prevent a leak of cooling air while the door is closed, and a greater adhesion between the gasket and a cabinet tends to decrease the leaking of cool air.

[0005] Therefore, to increase the adhesion of the gasket, there is provided a structure in which a magnet is provided inside the gasket, and the gasket becomes in close contact with the cabinet formed of a steel material when the door is closed.

[0006] Meanwhile, in the case in which the gasket is in close contact with the cabinet using the magnet, when the door is opened, a force corresponding to a magnetic force is further required due to the magnetic force, and since a user should open the door with a greater force, there is inconvenience in use.

[0007] To solve the problem, there are various door opening devices which assists opening of the door, and a refrigerator in which the door opening device is driven by a user's operation to enable the user to open the door with less force has been developed.

[0008] In Korean Patent Publication No. 10-2011-0040030, there is disclosed a structure in which a door handle is provided at a refrigerator door, and an operating part is provided at the door handle, and a door opening device provided at a cabinet is operated when a user operates the operating part, and thus the door is pushed and opened.

[0009] However, in the refrigerator having such a structure, since a position which is pushed to open the door is distant from a hinge shaft, there is a problem that a length of a rod is very long when the door is opened.

[0010] And since the operating part of the door handle should be operated to open the door, there is another problem that it is impossible to operate the operating part when the user is holding an object and may not use both hands.

Disclosure of Invention


Technical Problem



[0011] The present disclosure is directed to a refrigerator which is able to automatically or additionally open a door using another part of a body other than hands while a user is holding an object.

[0012] Also, the present disclosure is directed to a refrigerator in which a door is able to be opened without using of both hands, and the door is able to be opened by putting a part of a body into a gap in the door.

[0013] Also, the present disclosure is directed to a refrigerator in which a rear surface of one of one pair of refrigerator doors disposed in parallel is able to be opened so as to be located forward further than at least a front surface of the other door.

[0014] An object of the present disclosure is to provide a refrigerator with a refrigerator door which may be automatically opened by a simple and compact door opening device.

[0015] Another object of the present disclosure is to provide a refrigerator minimizing the length of a push rod for opening the door.

[0016] Another object of the present disclosure is to provide a refrigerator preventing damage of the push rod for opening the door.

[0017] Another object of the present disclosure is to provide a refrigerator reducing a noise in a door opening process.

[0018] An implementation of the present disclosure is directed to a refrigerator in which a push rod having a sufficient withdrawal distance for opening of the door in a limited space of the inside of the door may be provided.

[0019] An implementation of the present disclosure is directed to a refrigerator, when opening the door, the push rod is not slipped with the cabinet and maintains the contact state with a certain point of the cabinet, thereby reliably enabling opening of the door.

[0020] Also, the present disclosure is directed to a refrigerator which is able to control an accurate motion of a push rod.

[0021] Also, the present disclosure is directed to a refrigerator which is able to enhance reliability of an automatic opening motion of a door.

[0022] Also, the present disclosure is directed to a refrigerator which is able to control a closing and opening speed of a door.

[0023] Also, the present disclosure is directed to a refrigerator which is able to control an inserting speed and a withdrawing speed of a push rod.

[0024] Also, the present disclosure is directed to a refrigerator which is able to prevent a damage of a door opening device when a door is opened and closed.

[0025] Also, the present disclosure is directed to a refrigerator in which an opened state of a door is maintained during a preset time after the door is automatically opened.

[0026] Also, the present disclosure is directed to a refrigerator which is able to display an unusual situation through a display unit when the unusual situation occurs while a door is automatically opened and closed.

[0027] Also, the present disclosure is directed to a refrigerator in which an unusual situation is coded and output through a display unit when the unusual situation occurs while a door is automatically opened and closed.

Solution to Problem



[0028] According to an embodiment of the invention, a refrigerator comprises a cabinet equipped with a compartment, a compartment door connected to the cabinet, and configured to open and close the compartment, a door opening device provided inside an opening device accommodation part at the compartment door and having a driving motor, wherein the door opening device comprises a plurality of gears, and a push rod which is moveable by the plurality of gears against the cabinet to open the door, a controller configured to control the door opening device, wherein the controller activates the door opening device to open the compartment door in response to a door opening signal.

[0029] The compartment may be a refrigerating compartment or a freezing compartment, and the compartment door may thus be a refrigerating compartment door or a freezer compartment door.

[0030] The opening device accommodation part may be formed at the upper end of the compartment door.

[0031] The push rod may be horizontally curved, and is preferably curved along a rotating direction of the door.

[0032] The push rod may comprise a rod cap at the end of the push rod facing the cabinet, wherein the rod cap is preferably formed of rubber or an elastic material.

[0033] The plurality of gears include reduction gears and at least one dummy gear, wherein the reduction gears reduce a rotating speed of the driving motor, and transmit a force for driving the push rod. The dummy gear serves to prolong a withdrawing distance of the push rod.

[0034] A first dummy gear may be disposed at one of the reduction gears, and the first dummy gear and the push rod are preferably connected by a second dummy gear.

[0035] A rack is preferably formed at an outer surface of the push rod.

[0036] The refrigerator according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the door opening device comprises a first Hall sensor and a second Hall sensor. The first Hall sensor may be provided at a position at which a magnet provided at the push rod is detected when the push rod is completely inserted therein, and wherein the second Hall sensor is provided at a position at which the magnet provided at the push rod is detected when the push rod is completely withdrawn therefrom.

[0037] A magnet installation part which accommodates the magnet may be formed at a rear end of the push rod. The magnet installation part is preferably located just above the first Hall sensor in a state in which the push rod is completed inserted: The magnet installation part is preferably located just above the second Hall sensor in a state in which the push rod is completed withdrawn.

[0038] According to an implementation of the present disclosure, there is provided a refrigerator including a cabinet forming a storage space; a door opening and closing the storage space; a sensing assembly disposed on one side of the door and detecting a user's operation; and a door opening device provided in the door and driven when detecting the operation by the sensing assembly and opening the door, wherein the door opening device includes a case; a driving motor mounted in the case; a push rod moved by power of the driving motor and in which a rack is formed on one side; a plurality of reduction gears connected to the driving motor and transmitting the power; and a dummy gear connecting between the plurality of reduction gears and the rack of the push rod and further moving a gear attachment point with the push rod toward the cabinet.

[0039] A plurality of the dummy gears may be provided and a diameter of a dummy gear which is in contact with the push rod may be smallest.

[0040] An opening device accommodation part which is recessed inwardly and accommodating the door opening device may be formed at an upper end of the door, and the opening device accommodation part may be shielded by an accommodation part cover.

[0041] A rod hole opened toward the cabinet and through which the push rod is inserted and withdrawn may be formed in the opening device accommodation part.

[0042] A rod cap formed larger than a size of the rod hole and selectively shielding the rod hole may be formed at a front end of the push rod.

[0043] The rod cap may be formed of an elastically deformable material.

[0044] The push rod may be formed to have a curvature in accordance with a turning radius of the door.

[0045] The push rod may be inserted into and withdrawn from a point which is closer to an end in which a rotating shaft of the door is formed than other end of the door.

[0046] A guide groove recessed along an extension direction of the push rod may be formed in the push rod, and a guide projection which protrudes to be inserted into the guide groove and is formed to have a curvature corresponding to the push rod and guiding movement of the push rod may be formed in the case.

[0047] A magnet installation part in which a magnet is installed may be formed at an end of the push rod, a motor PCB may be provided in one side of the case corresponding to a mounting position of the push rod, a first hall sensor located at a position corresponding to an initial position in which the push rod is inserted and a second hall sensor located at a position corresponding to a position in which the push rod is withdrawn in maximum may be provided in the PCB, and the motor PCP may control the driving motor in accordance with the position of the push rod.

[0048] The driving motor may be a Biel DC motor which is able to adjust a speed by FG counting.

[0049] A switch magnet provided at one side of the door and rotated with the door, and a reed switch provided at one side of a hinge which is rotatably supporting the door and selectively turned on and off by the switch magnet in accordance with the opening and closing of the door may be further included.

[0050] According to an implementation of the present disclosure, there is provided a refrigerator including a cabinet in which a refrigerating compartment is disposed upward and a freezer compartment is disposed downward; a pair of refrigerating compartment door disposed side-by-side to open and close the refrigerating compartment; a pair of freezer compartment door disposed side-by-side to open and close the freezer compartment; a sensing assembly disposed on one side of the freezer compartment door and detecting a user's operation; and a door opening device provided on the refrigerating compartment door and driven when detecting the operation by the sensing assembly, and opening the door, wherein the door opening device includes a case; a driving motor mounted in the case; a push rod moved by power of the driving motor and in which a rack is formed on one side; a plurality of reduction gears connected to the driving motor and transmitting the power; and a dummy gear connecting between the plurality of reduction gears and the rack of the push rod and further moving a gear attachment point with the push rod toward the cabinet.

[0051] The sensing assembly may be provided in one side of the freezer compartment door of both right and left sides of the freezer compartment door, and the door opening device may be provided in the refrigerating compartment which is located above the freezer compartment door in which the sensing assembly is provided.

[0052] The push rod may be formed to be round so that an end which is in contact with the cabinet faces a side surface of the cabinet.

[0053] The push rod may be formed to extend to be located forward than a front surface of the refrigerating compartment door in which a rear surface of the refrigerating compartment door which is opened by the push rod is closed.

[0054] The push rod may be formed to extend so that a gap between the front surface of the closed refrigerating compartment door and the rear surface of the opened refrigerating compartment door is 70 mm to 90 mm.

[0055] The push rod may be formed to extend so that the closed refrigerating compartment door can be rotated about 24° to 26°.

[0056] A refrigerator according to one aspect of the present disclosure may include a cabinet having a storage space, a refrigerator door for opening and closing the storage space, and a door opening device which may operate to open and close the refrigerator door.

[0057] The door opening device may include a push rod which operates by receiving electric power of a motor.

[0058] At this time, the push rod may receive the electric power of the motor by one or more gears.

[0059] In order to reduce the length of the push rod, the push rod may engage with one or more gears and may include a rack gear having a curved shape.

[0060] The rack gear may be formed in an arc shape. At this time, the arc-shaped rack gear may be convexly arranged in a direction away from a hinge shaft of the refrigerator door.

[0061] A portion where the push rod contacts, in one example, for maintaining the push rod to be in contact with the cabinet, the center of the arc-shaped rack gear may be the hinge shaft.

[0062] The door opening device may further include a housing having the push rod, and any one of the housing and the push rod may have a guide rib, and the other may have a guide groove accommodating the guide rib, and the guide groove may be formed in an arc shape.

[0063] In addition, the center of the arc of the guide groove may be the hinge shaft.

[0064] The refrigerator door may include a first side which is close to the hinge shaft, and a second side facing the first side. At this time, the push rod may be placed adjacent to the hinge shaft of the refrigerator door.

[0065] That is, the hinge shaft of the refrigerator door may be placed at an area corresponding to an area between an imaginary line which divides the first side and the second side of the refrigerator door equally and the first side. Also, the push rod may be placed at the area corresponding to the area between the imaginary line and the first side.

[0066] At this time, the push rod may be placed between the imaginary line and the hinge shaft.

[0067] The door opening device may be arranged on the refrigerator door.

[0068] The refrigerator door may include a frame accommodating the door opening device, and the frame may include an opening which the push rod penetrates.

[0069] In addition, the push rod may include a body unit in which the rack gear is equipped, and an extension unit which is placed on a side of the body unit.

[0070] At this time, a maximum width of the extension unit in a first direction which is crossed with a direction in which the push rod passes thorough the opening, may correspond to a width of the opening in the first direction.

[0071] And a width of the body unit in the first direction may be smaller than the width of the extension unit in the first direction.

[0072] For preventing the interference of the frame and the push rod while moving the push rod, the width of the extension unit in the first direction may become smaller toward the body unit.

[0073] Further, the door opening device may include a housing which supports the motor, and a coupling unit coupled with a buffer unit which may absorb shock or vibration may be equipped in the housing, and the buffer unit may be coupled with an installation unit equipped in the refrigerator door.

[0074] Further, the door opening device may include a plurality of gears and each of the plurality of gears may be a spur gear.

[0075] Also, the refrigerator may further include an extra refrigerator door which is placed on one side of the refrigerator door and opening and closing the storage space, and a position sensing unit for detecting a position of the push rod, and since the position sensing unit detects a position, the push rod may move between an initial position which is a position when the refrigerator door is closed, and a last position which is a position when the refrigerator door is opened, and while the push rod is placed in the last position, at least a portion of a rear surface of the refrigerator door may be placed forward than a front surface of the extra refrigerator door.

[0076] For opening the refrigerator door, the push rod may move to the last position from the initial position, and while moving to the last position from the initial position, the push rod may maintain a state in contact with a portion of the cabinet.

[0077] The details of one or more implementations are set forth in the accompanying drawings and the description below. Other features will be apparent from the description and drawings, and from the claims.

Advantageous Effects of Invention



[0078] In the control method of the refrigerator 1 according to the proposed implementation, the following effects may be expected.

[0079] In the refrigerator according to the implementation of the present disclosure, even when the user is holding the object in both hands, the door opening device is driven through detection of the sensing assembly provided at the door, and the door is automatically opened, and thus user convenience can be enhanced.

[0080] And the door opening device enables the door to be opened, such that at least a user's body, e.g., the elbow is put therein, and opens the door, and thus the user can put a part of his/her body in the open gap, and can easily further open the door. Therefore, since the user can completely open the door without use of both hands, the user convenience can be further enhanced.

[0081] In particular, when one pair of doors are disposed in parallel, a distance between the rear surface of the automatically opened door and the front surface of the closed door can be sufficiently provided, and thus the additional opening can be easily performed.

[0082] And the push rod of the door opening device pushes the cabinet so that the door is opened, and pushes one side of the cabinet close to the hinge to be opened, and provides the maximum withdrawal distance to the push rod which is provided in the limited inside of the door and facilitates the extra opening of the door.

[0083] In particular, the gear arranged for withdrawal and insertion of the push rod is configured in a combination of the reduction gear and the dummy gear, and the contact point of the push rod and the dummy gear is moved toward the cabinet side as much as possible by using the dummy gear, thereby securing the withdrawal distance of the push rod as long as possible.

[0084] And, since the shape of the push rod is formed in a round shape, a point nearest to the hinge of the door may be pushed and opened, and since the cabinet may be stably pushed to open the door without generating a slip of the push rod while the door is turning, door opening performance may be improved.

[0085] In addition, since the rod cap which is elastically deformable is provided at the front end of the push rod, prevents a shock when being in contact with the cabinet and improves the grip of the push rod, the power for opening of the door may be transmitted without loss.

[0086] And the driving motor which provides power for the movement of the push rod is provided at the door opening device, and the driving motor can control the speed using the FG count, and thus the inserting and withdrawing speed of the push rod can be controlled. Therefore, opening and closing speed of the door can be controlled, and the rolling of the door is prevented when the door is opened and closed, and thus opening and closing performance of the door can be enhanced.

[0087] Also, in an abnormal state, returning or emergency returning of the push rod is allowed, and the shock or the damage of the door opening device upon the opening and closing of the door can be prevented, and thus safety can be enhanced.

[0088] And even when the automatic opening of the door is completed, the rotation of the driving motor is maintained at a constant speed in the direction in which the door is opened, and the door is prevented from being closed by its own weight, and a sufficient period of time for performing an additional operation is provided to the user, and thus the user convenience can be enhanced.

[0089] And when an abnormal state occurs while the door is being opened and closed, the error indication is output through the display unit so that the user easily recognizes the abnormal state. Also, the error state is coded and indicated through the display unit so as to enable the user to easily recognize the error state and to take appropriate follow-up measures, and thus the user convenience can be enhanced.

[0090] When the push rod for opening the door is equipped in the door, the length of the push rod is limited, but according to the present disclosure, as the length of the push rod may be reduced by the push rod being provided with the curve-shaped rack gear so there is an advantage in that the door device may be compact.

[0091] As the push rod is placed adjacent to the hinge shaft which provides the rotation center of the refrigerator door, the length of the push rod needed for opening the refrigerator door by a required angle may be minimized.

[0092] As the push rod has the curve-shaped rack gear, the push rod maintains the state in contact with a portion of the front surface of the cabinet and the refrigerator door is opened, and thus damage or noise of the cabinet by the slip of the push rod may be prevented.

[0093] As the push rod has the curve-shaped rack gear, even if an external force acts on the refrigerator door in the refrigerator door closing direction while opening the refrigerator door or upon completion of opening the refrigerator door, a moment would not act on the push rod, and the push rod and a gear for transferring the electric power to the push rod may be prevented from being damaged.

[0094] In addition, as a spur gear is used as the gear for transferring the electric power to the push rod, even if an external force acts on the push rod, a plurality of gears may be rotated in the reverse direction (a direction in which the push rod is rotated to return to the initial position), and thus damage of the plurality of gears and push rod is prevented.

[0095] In addition, while the refrigerating compartment door is closed, the push rod may prevent the inflow of foreign substances to the opening which is formed at the frame of the refrigerator door.

[0096] According to another aspect, a refrigerator includes a cabinet defining a storage space, a door configured to open and close the storage space by rotating about a vertical hinge axis, a hinge configured to couple the door to the cabinet and defining the vertical hinge axis, and a door opening device provided at the door and configured open the door. The door opening device includes a case, a driving motor, a push rod provided in the case and configured to be pushed out of the case based on being actuated by the driving motor to thereby open the door, the push rod being positioned between the driving motor and the hinge and having a curved rack that is convex relative to the hinge axis, and a plurality of reduction gears mounted in the case and configured to transmit a driving force of the driving motor to the push rod, the plurality of reduction gears being a sequence of gears that includes at least a first reduction gear and a last reduction gear, the last reduction gear being farther removed from the driving motor than the first reduction gear. A first distance in a front-to-rear direction between a rear surface of the door and a point of contact at which the driving force is transmitted to the curved rack is less than respective distances in the front-to-rear direction between the rear surface and a center of rotation of any of the plurality of reduction gears.

[0097] Implementations according to this aspect may include one or more of the following features. For example, the center of curvature of the curved rack may lie on the hinge axis. An opening device accommodation part may be defined by the door, the opening device accommodation part being recessed downward from a top surface of the door and being configured to accommodate the opening device. The rear surface of the door may define a rod hole that is configured to allow the push rod to pass through to thereby make contact with the front surface of the cabinet when actuated to open the door. The push rod may be configured, based on being pushed out of the case to open the door, to be withdrawn out of the case such that at least half of the curved rack is withdrawn out of the case. The push rod may be configured, based on being pushed out of the case to open the door, to be withdrawn out through the rod hole such that at least half of the curved rack is withdrawn out of the rod hole. The push rod may be configured, based on being actuated to open the door, to be withdrawn such that the door is rotated open to about 24° to 26°. A length of the curved rack may be greater than a width of the case in the front-to-rear direction. The length of the curved rack may be greater than a thickness of the door in which the opening device is accommodated.

[0098] In some implementations, the door opening device may further include a dummy gear that couples the last reduction gear to the curved rack of the push rod, the point of contact at which the driving force is transmitted to the curved rack coinciding with a point of contact between the dummy gear and the curved rack. The curved rack may extend from a proximal portion of the rod that makes contact with the dummy gear when the rod is fully retracted within the case to a distal most end of the rod. A first diameter of the dummy gear that makes contact with the curved rack may be less than respective diameters of any of the plurality of reduction gears. The dummy gear may include a plurality of dummy gears, the dummy gear that makes contact with the curved rack being positioned closer to the rear surface of the door compared to other of the plurality of dummy gears. The point of contact between the dummy gear and the curved rack may be positioned closer to the hinge axis compared to any portion of the plurality of reduction gears. The point of contact between the dummy gear and the curved rack may be positioned closer to the rear surface of the door in which the opening device is accommodated compared to any portion of the plurality of reduction gears. In some cases, a length of the portion of the curved rack that makes contact with the dummy gear during operation may be greater than a circumference of the dummy gear that makes contact with the curved rack. The driving motor may be positioned within the case. An axis of the driving motor may be parallel to the hinge axis. The door may be configured to rotatably open to a preset manual range upon opening by a user and to rotatably open to a preset automatic range that is less than the preset manual range upon opening by the opening device. The preset automatic range may be approximately 25?. The preset manual range may be approximately 180° or greater.

[0099] Heretofore, even though all components configuring the implementations of the present disclosure are described to be combined as one unit or to operate as a combination thereof, the present disclosure is not limited to these implementations. That is, within the scope of the present disclosure, all components may be selectively combined to one or more thereof to operate as a combination. Also, the terms of "comprise," "configure" and/or "have" specify the presence of stated components, unless there is a clearly different meaning in the present application, but do not preclude the presence thereof and should be construed to further include other components. Unless otherwise defined, all terms including technical or scientific terms used herein have the same meaning as commonly understood by those skilled in the art to which the disclosure pertains. General terms that are defined in a dictionary shall be construed to have meanings that are consistent in the context of the relevant art, and will not be interpreted as having an idealistic or excessively formalistic meaning unless clearly defined in the present application.

[0100] Although the implementations have been described with reference to a number of illustrative implementations thereof, it should be understood that numerous other modifications and implementations can be devised by those skilled in the art that will fall within the spirit and scope of the principles of this disclosure. The implementations disclosed herein, therefore, are not to be taken in a sense for limiting the technical concept of the present disclosure but for explanation thereof, and the range of the technical concept is not limited to these implementations. The scope of the present disclosure should be construed by the appended claims, along with the full range of equivalents to which such claims are entitled.

Brief Description of Drawings



[0101] Implementations will be described in detail with reference to the following drawings in which like reference numerals refer to like elements, and wherein:

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a refrigerator according to an implementation of the present disclosure;

FIG. 2 is a front view illustrating a state in which all doors of the refrigerator are opened;

FIG. 3 is a perspective view illustrating a state in which a sub-door of the refrigerator is opened;

FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view illustrating a state in which a main door and the sub-door are separated from each other;

FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view illustrating an installation structure of a door opening device according to the implementation of the present disclosure;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the door opening device when being seen from a lower side;

FIG. 7 is an exploded perspective view of the door opening device;

FIG. 8 is a view illustrating a state of the door opening device when the door is closed;

FIG. 9 is a view illustrating the state of the door opening device when the door is opened;

FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the sub-door;

FIG. 11 is an exploded perspective view of a lower portion of the sub-door;

FIG. 12 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view of the sub-door;

FIG. 13 is a perspective view of a freezer compartment door according to the implementation of the present disclosure;

FIG. 14 is an exploded perspective view of the freezer compartment door;

FIGS. 15A to 15E are views sequentially illustrating a molding process of an outer plate of the freezer compartment door;

FIG. 16 is a partial perspective view of the freezer compartment door;

FIG. 17 is an exploded perspective view illustrating a coupling structure of a door plate, a lower decoration and a covering member;

FIG. 18 is a partially cut-away perspective view illustrating a coupling state of the door plate, the lower decoration and the covering member;

FIG. 19 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 19-19' of FIG. 13;

FIG. 20 is a perspective view of the lower decoration of the freezer compartment door when being seen from a front;

FIG. 21 is a perspective view of the lower decoration when being seen from an upper side;

FIG. 22 is a partial perspective view of a sensing assembly installation part of a lower decoration;

FIG. 23 is a perspective view of a sensing assembly according to the implementation of the present disclosure when being seen from a front;

FIG. 24 is a perspective view of the sensing assembly when being seen from a rear;

FIG. 25 is an exploded perspective view of the sensing assembly when being seen from one direction;

FIG. 26 is an exploded perspective view of the sensing assembly when being seen from another direction;

FIG. 27 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view of the sensing assembly;

FIGS. 28A to 28C are views illustrating an installation process of the sensing assembly;

FIG. 29 is a view illustrating an image projecting state through a projector of the sensing assembly;

FIG. 30 is an enlarged view of an A area of FIG. 29;

FIG. 31 is a view illustrating a detection area and an image projecting area by the sensing assembly;

FIG. 32 is a block diagram illustrating a flow of a control signal of the refrigerator;

FIGS. 33A and 33B are views illustrating an opening operation state of the main door;

FIG. 34 is a flowchart sequentially illustrating an operation of the door opening device;

FIG. 35 is a flowchart sequentially illustrating an initial operation of the door opening device;

FIG. 36 is a flowchart sequentially illustrating a standby operation of the door opening device;

FIG. 37 is a flowchart sequentially illustrating an opening operation of the door opening device;

FIG. 38 is a view illustrating a duty change according to an FG pulse count during the opening operation;

FIG. 39 is a flowchart sequentially illustrating a stopping operation after opening of the door opening device;

FIG. 40 is a flowchart sequentially illustrating a returning operation of the door opening device;

FIG. 41 is a view illustrating a duty change during the returning operation according to the FG pulse count;

FIG. 42 is a flowchart sequentially illustrating an emergency returning operation of the door opening device; and

FIG. 43 is a view illustrating a duty change according to the FG pulse count during the emergency returning operation.

FIG. 44 is a perspective view of a refrigerator according to a first implementation;

FIG. 45 is a perspective view illustrating a state of a door opening device equipped in a first refrigerating compartment door according to the first implementation;

FIG. 46 is a view illustrating the door opening device according to the first implementation;

FIG. 47 is a plan view illustrating a state of the door opening device installed on the first refrigerating compartment door according to the first implementation;

FIG. 48 is a view illustrating a push rod constituting the door opening device;

FIG. 49 is a view illustrating a state of the push rod of FIG. 48 protruding from a frame of the first refrigerating compartment door;

FIG. 50 is a view illustrating an opening process of a refrigerator door according to the first implementation;

FIG. 51 is a view illustrating a push rod according to a second implementation;

FIG. 52 is a view illustrating a state of the push rod of FIG. 51 placed in an initial position;

FIG. 53 is a view illustrating a state of the push rod of FIG. 51 protruding from a frame of a first refrigerating compartment door; and

FIG. 54 is a view illustrating an opening process of a refrigerator door according to the second implementation.


Mode for the Invention



[0102] Hereinafter, exemplary implementations of the present disclosure will be described in detail with reference to the accompanying drawings. However, The disclosure may, however, be implemented in many different forms and should not be construed as being limited to the implementations set forth herein; rather, alternative implementations included in other retrogressive disclosures or falling within the spirit and scope of the present disclosure can easily be derived through adding, altering, and removing, and will fully convey the concept of the disclosure to those skilled in the art.

[0103] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a refrigerator according to an implementation of the present disclosure. And FIG. 2 is a front view illustrating a state in which all doors of the refrigerator are opened. And FIG. 3 is a perspective view illustrating a state in which a sub-door of the refrigerator is opened.

[0104] As illustrated in the drawings, an exterior of a refrigerator 1 according to an implementation of the present disclosure may be formed by a cabinet 10 which forms a storage space, and a door which opens and closes the storage space.

[0105] An inside of the cabinet 10 may be vertically divided by a barrier 11, and a refrigerating compartment 12 may be formed at an upper portion of the cabinet 10, and a freezer compartment 13 may be formed at a lower portion of the cabinet 10.

[0106] And various accommodation members 121 such as a shelf, a drawer and a basket may be provided inside the refrigerating compartment 12. A main lighting unit 85 which illuminates the refrigerating compartment 12 may be provided at the refrigerating compartment 12. The main lighting unit 85 may be disposed at the freezer compartment 13, and may also be disposed at any positions of an inner wall surface of the refrigerator 1.

[0107] A drawer type freezer compartment accommodation member 131 which is inserted into and withdrawn from the freezer compartment 13 may be mainly disposed inside the freezer compartment 13. The freezer compartment accommodation member 131 may be formed to be inserted and withdrawn, interlocking with opening of a freezer compartment door 30. And a first detection device 92 which detects a user's body may be provided at a front surface of the freezer compartment door 30. Detailed description of the first detection device 92 will be described again below.

[0108] The door may include a refrigerating compartment door 20 and the freezer compartment door 30. The refrigerating compartment door 20 serves to open and close an open front surface of the refrigerating compartment 12 by rotation, and the freezer compartment door 30 serves to open and close an open front surface of the freezer compartment 13 by rotation. And one pair of the refrigerating compartment door 20 and the freezer compartment door 30 may be provided left and right to shield the refrigerating compartment 12 and the freezer compartment 13.

[0109] A plurality of door baskets may be provided at the refrigerating compartment door 20 and the freezer compartment door 30. The door baskets may be provided so as not to interfere with the accommodation members 121 and 131 while the refrigerating compartment door 20 and the freezer compartment door 30 are closed.

[0110] Meanwhile, the implementation of the present disclosure describes an example in which a French type door opening and closing one space by rotating one pair of doors disposed in parallel is applied to a bottom freezer type refrigerator having the freezer compartment provided at a lower side thereof. However, the present disclosure may be applied to all types of refrigerators having the door.

[0111] An exterior of each of the refrigerating compartment door 20 and the freezer compartment door 30 may be formed of a metallic material, and the entire refrigerator 1 may have a metallic texture. And if necessary, a dispenser which dispenses water or ice may be provided at the refrigerating compartment door 20.

[0112] Meanwhile, a right one (in FIG. 1) of the pair of refrigerating compartment doors 20 may be formed to be doubly opened and closed.

[0113] Specifically, the right refrigerating compartment door 20 may include a main door 40 which is formed of the metallic material to open and close the refrigerating compartment 12, and a sub-door 50 which is rotatably disposed inside the main door 40 to open and close an opening of the main door 40.

[0114] The main door 40 may be formed to have the same size as that of a left one (in FIG. 1) of the pair of refrigerating compartment doors 20, may be rotatably installed at the cabinet 10 by a main hinge 401 and a middle hinge 402, and thus may open and close a part of the refrigerating compartment 12.

[0115] And an opening part 403 which is opened to have a predetermined size may be formed at the main door 40. A door basket 404 may be installed at a rear surface of the main door 40 including an inside of the opening part 403. Therefore, a user may have access to the door basket 404 through the opening part 403 without opening of the main door 40. At this point, the size of the opening part 403 may correspond to most of a front surface of the main door 40 except a part of a perimeter of the main door 40.

[0116] The sub-door 50 is rotatably installed inside the opening part 403, and opens and closes the opening part 403. And at least a part of the sub-door 50 may be formed of a transparent material like glass. Therefore, even while the sub-door 50 is closed, it is possible to see through the inside of the opening part 403. The sub-door 50 may be referred to as a see-through door.

[0117] Meanwhile, a front surface of the sub-door 50 may be formed to have a controllable light transmittance and reflectivity, and thus may be selectively changed into a transparent or opaque state according to a user's operation. And a door lighting unit 49 which emits light toward the inside of the opening part 403 may be provided at an upper portion of the main door 40, and may be turned on/off by the user.

[0118] When there are not any operations while all of the main door 40 and the sub-door 50 are closed, the door lighting unit 49 and the main lighting unit 85 are maintained in an OFF state. In this state, light outside the refrigerator 1 is reflected on the front surface of the sub-door 40, and the sub-door 50 may have an opaque black color or may be in a state like a mirror surface. Therefore, an accommodation space of the main door 40 and an internal space of the refrigerating compartment 12 are not visible.

[0119] Therefore, the sub-door 50 may provide a beautiful and simple exterior having a mirror like texture to the refrigerator 1. Also, the exterior may harmonize with the metallic texture of the main door 40, the refrigerating compartment door 20 and the freezer compartment door 30, and thus may provide a more luxurious image.

[0120] However, in a state in which all of the main door 40 and the sub-door 50 are closed, the door lighting unit 49 or the main lighting unit 85 is turned on by a user's certain operation. While the door lighting unit 49 or the main lighting unit 85 is turned on, an inside of the refrigerator 1 becomes bright, and light inside the refrigerator 1 may be transmitted through the sub-door 50, and thus the sub-door 50 may become transparent.

[0121] When the sub-door 50 is in the transparent state, the accommodation space of the main door 40 and the internal space of the refrigerating compartment 12 may be visible. Therefore, the user may confirm an accommodation state of food in the accommodation space of the main door 40 and the internal space of the refrigerating compartment 12 without opening of the main door 40 and the sub-door 50.

[0122] Also, when the sub-door 50 is in the transparent state, a display unit 60 disposed at a rear of the sub-door 50 is in a visible state, and an operation state of the refrigerator 1 may be displayed to an outside.

[0123] FIG. 4 is an exploded perspective view illustrating a state in which the main door and the sub-door are separated from each other.

[0124] As illustrated in the drawing, an external appearance of the main door 40 may be formed by an outer plate 41, a door liner 42 and door cap decorations 45 and 46.

[0125] The outer plate 41 may be formed of a plate-shaped stainless material, and may be formed to be bent and thus to form a part of a front surface and a perimeter surface of the main door 40.

[0126] The door liner 42 may be injection-molded with a plastic material, and forms the rear surface of the main door 40. And the door liner 42 may form a space which is in communication with the opening part 403, and may have a plurality of door dikes and an uneven structure formed at a perimeter thereof so that the door basket 404 is installed.

[0127] A rear gasket 44 may be provided at a perimeter of a rear surface of the door liner 42. The rear gasket 44 is in close contact with a perimeter of the cabinet 10, and prevents a leak of cooling air between the main door 40 and the cabinet 10.

[0128] The upper cap decoration 45 and the lower cap decoration 46 form an upper surface and a lower surface of the main door 40. And a hinge installation part 451 which enables the main door 40 to be rotatably installed at the cabinet 10 may be formed at each of the upper cap decoration 45 and the lower cap decoration 46. Therefore, an upper end and a lower end of the main door 40 are rotatably supported by the main hinge 401 and the middle hinge 402, respectively.

[0129] And a door handle 462 may be formed to be recessed from the lower surface of the main door 40, i.e., the lower cap decoration 46. The user may put a hand into the door handle 462, may rotate the main door 40, and thus may open and close the refrigerating compartment 12.

[0130] Meanwhile, a door frame 43 may be further provided between the outer plate 41 and the door liner 42, and may form a perimeter of the opening part 403.

[0131] In a state in which the outer plate 41, the door liner 42, the door frame 43, and the cap decorations 45 and 46 are coupled with each other, a foaming solution may be filled inside an internal space of the main door 40, and thus an insulation may be formed therein. That is, the insulation may be disposed at a perimeter area of the opening part 403, and thus isolate a space inside the refrigerator 1 from a space outside the refrigerator 1.

[0132] A hinge hole 433 in which each of sub-hinges 51 and 52 for installing the sub-door 50 is installed may be formed at each of both sides of the door frame 43. The hinge hole 433 may be formed at a position which faces a side surface of the sub-door 50, and also formed so that each of the sub-hinges 51 and 52 is inserted therein.

[0133] The sub-hinges 51 and 52 may include an upper hinge 51 and a lower hinge 52 which are installed at an upper end and a lower end of the sub-door 50. The sub-hinges 51 and 52 may be formed at the upper end and the lower end of the sub-door 50 to be recessed, such that the upper hinge 51 and the lower hinge 52 are installed therein. And the upper hinge 51 and the lower hinge 52 may extend laterally toward the hinge hole 433, and may be coupled at an inside of the main door 40.

[0134] Therefore, there is not an interfering structure with the sub-hinges 51 and 52 at a gap between the main door 40 and the sub-door 50. And a distance between the main door 40 and the sub-door 50 may be maintained in a narrow state, and the exterior may be further enhanced. As described above, the interference with the main door 40 upon the rotation of the sub-door 50 may be prevented, while the distance between the main door 40 and the sub-door 50 is maintained in the narrow state.

[0135] And a hinge cover 53 which shields the upper hinge 51 and guides access of an electric wire of the sub-door 50 toward the main door 40 may be further provided at an upper side of the upper hinge 51.

[0136] Meanwhile, the display unit 60 may be provided at the opening part 403. The display unit 60 serves to display an operation state of the refrigerator 1 and also to operate the refrigerator 1, and may be formed to be seen from an outside through the sub-door 50 by the user when the sub-door 50 is in the transparent state. That is, the display unit 60 is not exposed to the outside while the sub-door 50 is in the opaque state, and may display a variety of information to the outside while the sub-door 50 is in the transparent state.

[0137] Of course, the display unit 60 may include a display 61 which displays state information of the refrigerator 1, and various operating buttons 62 which set the operation of the refrigerator 1. The operation of the refrigerator 1 may be operated by the operating buttons 62.

[0138] The display unit 60 may be separably provided at a lower end of the opening part 403. Therefore, when it is necessary to check or repair the display unit 60, the display unit 60 may be separated. And after the main door 40 is assembled, the display unit 60 which is assembled as a separate module may be simply installed. Also, the display unit 60 which has a necessary function according to a specification of the refrigerator 1 may be selectively installed.

[0139] To install and separate the display unit 60, a display installing protrusion 435 which is coupled to a display guide 634 provided at a side surface of the display unit 60 may be formed at both inner side surfaces of the opening part 403. And a display connection part 436 for electrical connection with the display unit 60 may be provided at the lower end of the opening part 403.

[0140] The upper cap decoration 45 is provided at an upper end of the main door 40, and an opening device accommodation part 452 (in FIG. 5) may be formed at the upper cap decoration 45 to be recessed downward. The opening device accommodation part 452 may be shielded by a cap decoration cover 453.

[0141] FIG. 5 is an exploded perspective view illustrating an installation structure of a door opening device according to the implementation of the present disclosure. And FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the door opening device when being seen from a lower side. And FIG. 7 is an exploded perspective view of the door opening device.

[0142] As illustrated in the drawings, the opening device accommodation part 452 may be formed at the upper cap decoration 45 which forms the upper surface of the main door 40. And a door opening device 70 may be provided inside the opening device accommodation part 452. An open upper surface of the opening device accommodation part 452 is shielded by the cap decoration cover 453. A rod hole 4511 which may be formed toward the cabinet 10 may be formed at an inner side surface of the opening device accommodation part 452.

[0143] The door opening device 70 for automatically opening the main door 40 may be accommodated inside the opening device accommodation part 452, and may be formed to be shielded by the cap decoration cover 453.

[0144] The door opening device 70 includes an upper case 71 and a lower case 72 which form an external appearance thereof. A driving motor 73 and a plurality of gears may be installed at the upper case 71 and the lower case 72, and a push rod 77 which is moved by the plurality of gears may push the cabinet 10 and thus may open the main door 40.

[0145] The implementation of the present disclosure describes an example in which the door opening device 70 is provided at the upper end of the main door 40. However, the door opening device 70 may be provided at the sub-door 50 and the freezer compartment door 30, and may be formed to automatically open the sub-door 50 and the freezer compartment door 30.

[0146] The upper case 71 and the lower case 72 form the external appearance of an upper portion and a lower portion of the door opening device 70. And a space in which the plurality of gears and the push rod 77 are disposed may be provided by coupling the upper case 71 and the lower case 72 to each other.

[0147] Ring installation parts 721 in which a plurality of mounting rings 722 are installed may be formed at an outside of the lower case 72. The mounting ring 722 serves to support the lower case 72 and to enable the lower case 72 to be seated inside the opening device accommodation part 452, and may be formed of a silicone material. Therefore, vibration generated when the door opening device 70 is driven may be attenuated, and thus a noise may be prevented.

[0148] The mounting ring 722 may be formed so that a ring boss 454 inside the opening device accommodation part 452 passes therethrough. And a screw which passes through the upper case 71 is fastened to the ring boss 454, and thus the upper case 71 and the lower case 72 may be coupled to each other, and the lower case 72 may also be installed and fixed to an inside of the opening device accommodation part 452.

[0149] The driving motor 73 may be installed at a lower surface of the lower case 72. The driving motor 73 may be a BLDC type motor which is rotated normally or reversely. Since the BLDC type motor is used as the driving motor 73, a speed of the driving motor 73 may be variably controlled by counting a frequency generating (FG) signal.

[0150] Therefore, when the door opening device 70 is driven, a shock generated when the main door 40 is opened and closed may be relieved through controlling of the speed. In an emergency situation, emergency return of the push rod 77 or the like may be allowed. The implementation of the present disclosure will describe an example of the BLDC motor in which three hall sensors are provided and three FGs are counted during one revolution.

[0151] The driving motor 73 may be installed at the lower surface of the lower case 72, and a rotating shaft 731 of the driving motor 73 extends to an inside of the lower case 72, and a motor pinion 732 may be provided at the rotating shaft 731 of the driving motor 73. The motor pinion 732 is provided at an internal space of the lower case 72, and may be coupled to a first reduction gear 751.

[0152] An opening device PCB 74 may be provided at the lower surface of the lower case 72. The opening device PCB 74 may be installed at the lower surface of the lower case 72, and may be installed under the push rod 77.

[0153] The opening device PCB 74 serves to control the driving motor 73. A first hall sensor 741 and a second hall sensor 742 may be provided at the opening device PCB 74. The first hall sensor 741 is provided at a position at which a magnet 774 provided at the push rod 77 is detected when the push rod 77 is completely inserted therein. And the second hall sensor 742 is provided at a position at which the magnet 774 provided at the push rod 77 is detected when the push rod 77 is completely withdrawn therefrom. Therefore, the driving motor 73 may be controlled by the opening device PCB 74 according to detection signals of the first hall sensor 741 and the second hall sensor 742.

[0154] The plurality of gears may be disposed in the lower case 72 to be engaged with each other, and may be installed by a shaft 723 so as to be rotated between the lower case 72 and the upper case 71. The plurality of gears include reduction gears 75 and dummy gears 76. The reduction gears 75 may reduce a rotating speed, and then may transmit a force for driving the push rod 77. And the dummy gear 76 serves to ensure a withdrawing distance of the push rod 77, and a contact position with the push rod 77 may be moved by combination of the dummy gears 76.

[0155] Specifically, the motor pinion 732 is coupled to the first reduction gear 751. The first reduction gear 751 is a gear which is coupled to the motor pinion 732 having the highest rotating speed, and thus there is the highest probability that the noise is generated. Therefore, the motor pinion 732 and the first reduction gear 751 may be formed of an elastomer material having excellent mechanical strength and elastic recovery rate and high thermal resistance. Therefore, the noise between the motor pinion 732 and the first reduction gear 751 may be reduced while the mechanical strength required in the motor pinion 732 and the first reduction gear 751 is satisfied. The remaining gears may be formed of an engineering plastic material (POM).

[0156] The first reduction gear 751 may be connected with a second reduction gear 752, the second reduction gear 752 may be connected with a third reduction gear 753, and the third reduction gear 753 may be connected with a fourth reduction gear 754 sequentially. Like a general reduction gear, the reduction gears 75 have a structure in which an input side and an output side thereof are arranged vertically in two stages, and may be formed so that the input side and the output side are in contact with another adjacent gear so as to reduce the speed.

[0157] An RPM may be controlled through combination of the plurality of reduction gears 75, and a force transmitted to the push rod 77 may be controlled through the controlling of the RPM. Of course, the number of reduction gears 75 may be adjusted as needed.

[0158] A first dummy gear 761 is disposed at the fourth reduction gear 754, and the first dummy gear 761 and the push rod 77 may be connected by a second dummy gear 762. Each of the dummy gears 76 may have a general spur gear shape, and may be formed to simply transmit a force of the fourth reduction gear 754 to the push rod 77 and also to ensure a maximum withdrawing distance of the push rod 77 by controlling a contact distance with the push rod 77. To this end, the dummy gears 76 may include a plurality of gears having different sizes.

[0159] Specifically, due to a structural characteristic of the lower case 72 provided inside the cap decoration 45, a width of the lower case 72 is limited. Therefore, a size of each of the reduction gears 75 disposed inside the lower case 72 is also limited. In addition, a length of the push rod 77 is also limited due to its structure characteristic in which the push rod 77 is inserted or withdrawn inside the lower case 72.

[0160] In this state, the reduction gears 75 have the two-stage structure having the input side and the output side. Therefore, the sizes thereof are limited to a predetermined size or more. When the fourth reduction gear 754 is directly connected to the push rod 77, a contact point between the fourth reduction gear 754 and the push rod 77 is located at a position which is distant from the main door 40 due to a diameter of the fourth reduction gear 754, and the sufficient withdrawing distance of the push rod 77 may not be ensured.

[0161] A position of the contact point for transmitting power of the push rod 77 should be arranged in a withdrawing direction of the push rod 77 when possible, and also should be located at a position which is close to the rear surface of the main door 40. To this end, the dummy gears 76 may be arranged between the fourth reduction gear 754 and the push rod 77.

[0162] When the dummy gears 76 become bigger within a limited space, the position of the contact point with the push rod 77 is distant from the rear surface of the main door 40. Therefore, the power of the fourth reduction gear 754 is transmitted to the push rod 77 using a plurality of dummy gears 76 having small sizes. That is, the power of the fourth reduction gear 754 may be transmitted to the push rod 77 using the first dummy gear 761 and the second dummy gear 762.

[0163] At this point, a size of the second dummy gear 762 which is in contact with the push rod 77 may be formed smaller than that of the first dummy gear 761, and may be in contact with the push rod 77 at a position as close as possible to the rear surface of the main door 40. And a part of the lower case 72 at which the second dummy gear 762 is located may be recessed outward, and thus a position of the second dummy gear 762 is located as close as possible to a side of the cabinet 10.

[0164] The push rod 77 may push the cabinet 10, and may open the main door 40. And the push rod 77 may be installed inside the lower case 72, and a rack 771 may be formed at an outer surface of the push rod 77 so as to be coupled to the second dummy gear 762. Therefore, due to rotation of the dummy gears 76, the rack 771 may pass through the rod hole 4511, and then may protrude. Due to the size and location of the second dummy gear 762, at least half of the rack 771 may be withdrawn out of the case when the push rod 77 is actuated by the gears. In some cases, at least half of the rack 771 may be withdrawn out of the rod hole 4511.

[0165] In some cases, the length of the rack 771 may be longer than a width of the case in the front-to-rear direction. In some cases, the length of the rack 771 may be longer than a thickness of the door in the front-to-rear direction. Due to the increased length of the rack 771, which is made possible due in part to its curved shaped, the length of the rack 771 may be greater than or equal to a circumference of the second dummy gear 762.

[0166] The push rod 77 may be formed smaller than a width of the upper cap decoration 45, and may also be formed to have a length which may ensure the withdrawing distance of the main door 40. And the push rod 77 may be formed to extend with a predetermined curvature. Therefore, the push rod 77 may be maintained in a contacting state with a predetermined point of a front surface of the cabinet 10 even when the main door 40 is rotated. Therefore, even when the main door 40 is rotated, the push rod 77 may be prevented from being slipped, and may push one point of the cabinet 10, and thus may open the main door 40.

[0167] A rod cap 78 may be formed at a front end of the push rod 77. The rod cap 78 may be formed of rubber or an elastic material, and may be in contact with the cabinet 10, may prevent generation of the noise when the push rod 77 is in contact with the cabinet 10, may enhance a contacting force, and thus may effectively transmit a push force of the push rod 77 to the cabinet 10.

[0168] Also, a size of the outer surface of the push rod 77 may be formed equal to or larger than that of the rod hole 4511. Therefore, the rod cap 78 may be formed to shield the rod hole 4511 while the push rod 77 is completely inserted.

[0169] A guide groove 772 may be formed at an upper surface and a lower surface of the push rod 77. The guide groove 772 may be formed along an extending shape of the push rod 77, and may also be formed to have the same curvature as that of the push rod 77.

[0170] Guide protrusions 714 and 724 which are inserted into the guide grooves 772 may be formed at the lower case 72 and the upper case 71. Since the guide protrusions 714 and 724 are also formed to have the same curvature as that of the push rod 77, the push rod 77 is moved along the guide protrusions 714 and 724 upon the inserting and withdrawing of the push rod 77. Accordingly, when the push rod 77 is inserted and withdrawn, the guide protrusions 714 and 724 may be maintained in an inserted state into the guide grooves 772, and thus the push rod 77 may be prevented from being moved. And since the movement of the push rod 77 is prevented, the push rod 77 may be maintained in an stably engaged state with the second dummy gear 762 even upon the inserting and withdrawing thereof.

[0171] A magnet installation part 773 which accommodates the magnet 774 may be formed at a rear end of the push rod 77. The magnet installation part 773 may be located just above the first hall sensor 741 in a state in which the push rod 77 is completed inserted. And the magnet installation part 773 may be located just above the second hall sensor 742 in a state in which the push rod 77 is completed withdrawn. Therefore, when the push rod 77 is inserted and withdrawn, a motion of the push rod 77 may be detected through the first hall sensor 741 and the second hall sensor 742 of the opening device PCB 74.

[0172] Meanwhile, a switch magnet 455 is provided at the opening device accommodation part 452. The switch magnet 455 may be installed and fixed inside the opening device accommodation part 452 which is in contact with the hinge installation part 451. And a reed switch 4011 may be provided at the main hinge 401 which is installed at the hinge installation part 451. The main hinge 401 at which the reed switch 4011 is installed includes the hinge which may be formed of a metallic material and substantially fixes the main door 40, and the hinge cover which shields the main hinge 401.

[0173] The reed switch 4011 is provided at the main hinge 401, and maintains a fixed position even when the main door 40 is rotated. And the switch magnet 455 is rotated together when the main door 40 is rotated.

[0174] Therefore, while the main door 40 is closed, the reed switch 4011 is switched on by the switch magnet 455, and the switch magnet 455 becomes distant at a moment when the main door 40 is opened, and thus the reed switch is switched off. Like this, it may be determined whether the main door 40 is opened or closed according to the ON/OFF of the reed switch 4011, and driving of the door opening device 70 may be controlled according to the opening and closing of the main door 40.

[0175] That is, since the reed switch 4011 is switched off in a state in which the main door 40 is opened, the driving motor 73 is not operated even when an opening signal of the door opening device 70 is input, while the main door 40 is opened.

[0176] FIG. 8 is a view illustrating a state of the door opening device when the door is closed.

[0177] As illustrated in the drawing, while the main door 40 is closed, the switch magnet 455 is located at a position which faces the reed switch 4011, and thus the reed switch 4011 is maintained in an ON state.

[0178] And the push rod 77 is in a completely inserted state. In this state, the magnet 774 is located above the first hall sensor 741, and thus the first hall sensor 741 is in the ON state. That is, while a user's operation is not provided, the reed switch 4011 and the first hall sensor 741 are maintained in the ON state, and the driving motor 73 is not rotated.

[0179] In a state in which the push rod 77 is completely inserted, the rod cap 78 shields the rod hole 4511, and an end of the push rod 77 is spaced apart from the front surface of the cabinet 10.

[0180] In this state, when the user performs an operation for operating the door opening device 70, the opening signal of the main door 40 is input, and the driving motor 73 starts to be driven while being normally rotated. A force generated by the driving of the driving motor 73 is transmitted to the push rod 77 by the reduction gears 75 and the dummy gears 76, and the push rod 77 is moved toward the cabinet 10.

[0181] The end of the push rod 77 is in contact with the cabinet 10 by movement of the push rod 77. And the push rod 77 is continuously moved in a contacting state with the cabinet 10. The push rod 77 pushes the cabinet 10, and thus the main door 40 is gradually opened.

[0182] FIG. 9 is a view illustrating the state of the door opening device when the door is opened.

[0183] As illustrated in the drawing, while the push rod 77 is completely withdrawn, the magnet 774 is located at the second hall sensor 742. When the second hall sensor 742 is turned on, the opening device PCB 74 determines that the main door 40 is rotated at a preset angle, and thus may stop the driving of the driving motor 73.

[0184] In this state, the main door 40 is opened at a predetermined angle, and thus the user may put his/her elbow therein, and may rotate the main door 40. That is, in a state in which the user is holding an object, and thus may not open the main door 40 with his/ her hand, the user may further open the main door 40 using the elbow or a part of his/ her body.

[0185] For example, by the operation of the door opening device 70, the main door 40 may be opened so that a distance D between the rear surface of the main door 40 and a front surface of the adjacent refrigerating compartment door 20 is about 70 mm to 80 mm. At this point, a rotating angle of the main door 40 may be 24° to 26°, for example 25°. In some cases, the rotating angle of the main door 40 may depend on a distance between the user and the main door 40. For example, the rotating angle to which the door is rotated open may be increased beyond 26° if the user is standing farther away from the refrigerator. During this manual opening operation, the door can be opened to its full range, for example 180° or greater

[0186] And the open main door 40 may be closed after the food is completely accommodated. Then, when a preset time passes, the driving motor 73 may be rotated reversely, and thus the push rod 77 which is in a withdrawn state may be automatically returned, and thus may be in a state illustrated in FIG. 8. And even in the case in which an obstacle is detected when the main door 40 is opened, or an external force is exerted while the main door 40 is opened, the driving motor may be reversely rotated, and thus the push rod 77 may be returned.

[0187] Meanwhile, when the user further opens the main door 40 after the main door 40 is opened, and thus the reed switch 4011 is switched off, the user may close the main door 40 before the preset time passes. In this case, the push rod 77 may be rapidly returned, and thus may be prevented from colliding with the cabinet 10 and being broken.

[0188] FIG. 10 is a perspective view of the sub-door. And FIG. 11 is an exploded perspective view of a lower portion of the sub-door. And FIG. 12 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view of the sub-door.

[0189] As illustrated in the drawings, the sub-door 50 may be formed in a shape corresponding to that of the opening part 403. And the sub-door 50 may be rotatably installed at the main door 40 by the sub-hinges 51 and 52 to open and close the opening part 403.

[0190] A panel assembly 54 which may be formed by stacking a plurality of glass layers at regular intervals is provided at the sub-door 50, and an inside of the refrigerator 1 may be selectively seen through the panel assembly 54. The panel assembly 54 may be formed so that the plurality of glass layers are arranged to be spaced apart from each other and thus to form an insulation layer. One of the plurality of glass layers which forms the front surface of the sub-door 50 may be formed of a half glass material to selectively see through the inside of the refrigerator 1. The insulation may be formed at a perimeter of the panel assembly 54, and thus may insulate an outer area of the panel assembly 54.

[0191] Side frames 55 and 56 which form both side surfaces of the sub-door 50 may be provided at both sides of the panel assembly 54. A handle 561 of the sub-door 50 may be formed at one side frame 56 to be recessed, and the sub-hinges 51 and 52 may be fixed to the other side frame 55.

[0192] Sub-cap decorations 57 and 58 may be provided at upper and lower portions of the panel assembly 54. The sub-cap decorations 57 and 58 form an upper surface and a lower surface of the sub-door 50, is coupled to the side frames 55 and 56, and form a perimeter of the sub-door 50. The sub-hinges 51 and 52 may be installed at the sub-cap decorations 57 and 58 provided at the upper and lower ends of the sub-door 50, respectively.

[0193] A detection device accommodation part 582 at which a second detection device 81 and a knock detection device 82 are installed may be formed at the sub-cap decoration 58 which forms the lower surface of the sub-door 50. The detection device accommodation part 582 may be shielded by an accommodation part cover 583.

[0194] The second detection device 81 which may be installed at the sub-cap decoration 58 is a device which checks a user' approach, and the knock detection device 82 is a device which detects the user's knocking operation on the sub-door 50. The second detection device 81 and the knock detection device 82 may be attached to a rear surface of a front panel 541 which forms a front surface of the panel assembly 54.

[0195] A bezel 5411 may be formed along a perimeter of the rear surface of the front panel 541. The second detection device 81 and the knock detection device 82 may be disposed at the bezel 5411 which is formed at a lower end of the front panel 541. Therefore, when being seen from an outside of the refrigerator 1, the second detection device 81 and the knock detection device 82 may be disposed to be hidden. At this point, a part of the bezel 5411 located at a portion at which the second detection device 81 is disposed is removed, and thus infrared light may be easily transmitted and received.

[0196] The second detection device 81 may be located on an extension line of the first detection device 92, and may be arranged vertically with the first detection device 92. And an installation height of the second detection device 81 corresponds to the lower end of the sub-door 50, and thus an ordinary adult may be detected, but a child having a small height, an animal, or other things smaller than the height of the second detection device 81 may not be detected.

[0197] A position sensing device (PSD) may be used as the second detection device 81. That is, the second detection device 81 is formed so that the infrared light is emitted from a light emitting part 811, an angle of the reflected light is measured by a light receiving part, and thus a position of the user is recognized. An approach distance which is detected by the PSD may be set, and a detectable distance of the second detection device 81 is set to less than 1 m, and thus, when the user is located within a distance of 1 m from the front surface of the refrigerator 1, it may be recognized that the user is located at a front of the refrigerator 1 to operate the refrigerator 1.

[0198] Like the knock detection device 82, an installation position of the second detection device 81 corresponds to the lower end of the sub-door 50 located at an upper side. Since the installation position corresponds to a height of about 1 m from a floor, the child having the small height or other things having the low height may not be detected.

[0199] A pressing member 813 may be further provided at a rear of the second detection device 81. The pressing member 813 may be formed to press the second detection device 81 so that the second detection device 81 is fixed to the detection device accommodation part 582, and also the second detection device 81 is in close contact with the front panel 541.

[0200] The knock detection device 82 may be formed to recognize whether the user knocks on the front panel 541 of the sub-door 50. A certain operation of the refrigerator 1 may be indicated by a knocking operation detected by the knock detection device 82. For example, the door lighting unit 49 may be turned on by the user's knocking operation, and thus the sub-door 50 may become transparent.

[0201] The knock detection device 82 is located at an edge of the front panel 541, but an effective input part for the user's knocking operation is not limited thereto. The knock detection device 82 includes a microphone which detects a sound wave generated by vibration, instead of the vibration itself. Therefore, in a state in which the knock detection device 82 is in close contact with a medium at which the vibration is generated by the knocking operation, even though the knocking operation is applied to any positions, the sound wave may be transmitted through the continuous same medium, and may be effectively detected. And a position of the knock detection device 82 may be disposed at one end at which the electric wires may be arranged and a visible area of the sub-door 50 may also be maximized.

[0202] That is, an area to which a user's knocking input is applied may be an entire area which is defined by the front surface of the front panel 541. Most of the front panel 541 except a boundary portion thereof is a see-through area which selectively becomes transparent, and the knock detection device 82 may not be disposed thereat.

[0203] Therefore, it is preferable that the knock detection device 82 be located at the area of the bezel 5411 in the front panel 541. In particular, the bezel 5411 located at an upper end and left and right sides of the front panel 541 may be minimized by locating the knock detection device 82 at the lower end of the front panel 541 rather than both of the left and right sides thereof. By such a shape of the bezel 5411, the see-through area may be expanded. Since the knock detection device 82 is located at the lower end of the front panel 541 on which a user's eyes are relatively less focused, a wider see-through area may be provided to the user.

[0204] Since the knock detection device 82 is located at the area of the bezel 5411, is not exposed to an outside, and has a structure which is in close contact with the front panel 541, the user's knocking operation may be detected even through the user knocks on any position of the front panel 541.

[0205] Meanwhile, there may be a lot of environmental factors other than the knocking operation in which the vibrations are exerted on the front surface of the front panel 541. The front surface of the sub-door 50 may be vibrated by the shock generated when the main door 40 and the sub-door 50 are opened and closed, an external loud noise or the like, and such an input due to the external environments may be recognized as a knock signal.

[0206] Therefore, a detection device PCB 83 may be set so that a user's operation which knocks several times on the front surface of the sub-door 50 may be recognized as a normal knock input. More specifically, the user's operation which knocks several times (e.g., twice) on the front surface of the sub-door 50 at predetermined time intervals may be recognized as the normal knock input.

[0207] A case fixing part 5832 to which a screw for fixing the accommodation part cover 583 to the sub-cap decoration 58 is fastened may be formed at one side of the accommodation part cover 583. An injection port cover part 5831 is further formed at the other side of the accommodation part cover 583. The injection port cover part 5831 may be formed on the sub-cap decoration 58, and also formed to shield a first injection port 5824 through which the foaming solution filled to mold an insulation 501 is injected.

[0208] When the accommodation part cover 583 is installed at the sub-cap decoration 58, the detection device accommodation part 582 may be shielded, and the first injection port 5824 may also be shielded.

[0209] Meanwhile, a second injection port 584 through which the foaming solution is injected is further formed at one side of the sub-cap decoration 58 close to the lower hinge 52. The second injection port 584 may be shielded by a separate injection port cover 5841.

[0210] A first boss 5821 to which a screw for fixing the second detection device 81 is fastened, and a second boss 5822 for fixing the knock detection device 82 are respectively formed at a bottom surface of the detection device accommodation part 582.

[0211] An electric wire hole 5823 may be formed at one surface of the detection device accommodation part 582. An electric wire L which is connected to the detection device PCB 83, the second detection device 81 and the knock detection device 82 may pass through the electric wire hole 5823 and the perimeter of the sub-door 50, and may be guided to an outside of the sub-door 50 through the hinge cover 53.

[0212] FIG. 13 is a perspective view of the freezer compartment door according to the implementation of the present disclosure. And FIG. 14 is an exploded perspective view of the freezer compartment door.

[0213] One pair of the freezer compartment doors 30 may be provided left and right, and formed to open and close the freezer compartment 13 by rotation. A sensing assembly 90 may be provided at a right one (in FIG. 1) of the pair of freezer compartment doors 30. The pair of freezer compartment doors 30 have the same structure as each other, except the sensing assembly 90, and thus only the right freezer compartment door 30 will be described.

[0214] The freezer compartment door 30 may include a door plate 31, a freezer compartment door liner 32, an upper decoration 33, and a lower decoration 34. And the freezer compartment door 30 is filled with the insulation.

[0215] The door plate 31 forms a front surface and both of left and right side surfaces of the freezer compartment door 30, and may be formed by bending a plate-shaped stainless material. In particular, an inclined surface 35 at which the sensing assembly 90 is installed may be installed at a lower end of the front surface of the freezer compartment door 30.

[0216] The freezer compartment door liner 32 forms a rear surface of the freezer compartment door 30. The freezer compartment door liner 32 is injection-molded with a resin material, and may be formed so that an accommodation member is installed at the rear surface of the freezer compartment door 30. And the insulation may be filled between the freezer compartment door liner 32 and the door plate 31.

[0217] The upper decoration 33 is coupled to the door plate 31 and the freezer compartment door liner 32, and forms an upper surface of the freezer compartment door 30. And a freezer compartment door handle 331 may be formed at the upper decoration 33 to be recessed downward. The upper decoration 33 may be formed of the same material as that of the door plate 31.

[0218] The lower decoration 34 is coupled to the door plate 31 and the freezer compartment door liner 32, and forms a lower surface of the freezer compartment door 30.

[0219] Meanwhile, the door plate 31 which forms the front surface and both side surfaces of the freezer compartment door 30 is formed by bending the plate-shaped material. In particular, the inclined surface 35 may be formed at the lower end of the front surface of the freezer compartment door 30.

[0220] To form the inclined surface 35, the door plate 31 is formed by bending several times the plate-shaped material. And the door plate 31 may be manufactured so that creases are not generated at an exterior thereof, and diffused reflection does not occur even though the inclined surface 35 is formed.

[0221] FIGS. 15A to 15E are views sequentially illustrating a molding process of the outer plate of the freezer compartment door.

[0222] A process of manufacturing the door plate 31 will be described with reference to FIGS. 15A to 15E.

[0223] First, to mold the door plate 31, a stainless steel plate as a raw material is machined by a blanking process. The door plate 31 is molded into a shape illustrated in FIG. 15A by the blanking process of the steel plate.

[0224] Specifically, by the blanking process, the door plate 31 includes a front surface part 311 which forms the front surface of the freezer compartment door 30, an inclined part 312 which forms the inclined surface 35 at a lower end of the front surface part 311, and a side surface part 313 which forms a side surface of the freezer compartment door 30.

[0225] A recessed part 314 may be formed at a portion of an upper end of the door plate 31 at which the front surface part 311 and the side surface part 313 are divided from each other. When the front surface part 311 and the side surface part 313 are bent, a shape which is able to be coupled to the upper decoration 33 may be formed by the recessed part 314.

[0226] A cut-away part 315 may be formed at a portion of a lower end of the door plate 31 at which the inclined part 312 and the side surface part 313 are divided from each other. When the front surface part 311, the side surface part 313 and the inclined part 312 are bent by the cut-away part 315, a door slit 36 may be formed at a corner portion formed by the inclined part 312 and the side surface part 313. And an installation hole 351 in which the sensing assembly 90 is inserted may be formed at the inclined part 312 by the blanking process.

[0227] In the door plate 31 machined by the blanking process, a forming part 316 may be formed to be bent along an edge of the door plate 31 by a forming process, as illustrated in FIG. 15B. The forming part 316 forms a portion of the door plate 31 which is coupled to the upper decoration 33 and the lower decoration 34, and a portion thereof which is coupled to the freezer compartment door liner 32. The forming part 316 may be formed to be bent vertically. At this point, a part of the side surface part 313 and the inclined part 312 forming the cut-away part 315 is not machined by the forming process.

[0228] In the door plate 31 machined by the forming process, a boundary portion between the front surface part 311 and the side surface part 313 is machined by a primary bending process, as illustrated in FIG. 15C. A portion which is machined by the primary bending process is a corner portion at which the front surface and the side surface of the freezer compartment door 30 are in contact with each other, and may be machined by the bending process to have a predetermined curvature. The bending process is performed until when both side ends of the inclined surface 35, i.e., portions which are in contact with the cut-away parts 315 are bent with the same curvature.

[0229] The door plate 31 machined by the primary bending process may be machined by a secondary bending process, as illustrated in FIG. 15D. A portion machined by the secondary bending process is a boundary line between the front surface part 311 and the inclined part 312, and may be machined by the bending process to have a predetermined curvature. The inclined surface 35 may be formed by the secondary bending process. The inclined surface 35 has a predetermined angle. In the implementation of the present disclosure, the inclined surface 35 may be formed to have an angle of about 20° to 30° with respect to the front surface of the freezer compartment door 30. The angle of the inclined surface 35 may be set within a range which easily detects the user's operation and prevents misrecognition. By the secondary bending process, a side end of the inclined surface 35 and an end of the side surface part 313 are in contact with each other.

[0230] The door plate 31 machined by the secondary bending process may be machined by a tertiary bending process, as illustrated in FIG. 15E. A portion machined by the tertiary bending process corresponds to one end of the side surface part 313 which forms the cut-away part 315, and is bent with a predetermined curvature. By the tertiary bending process, the door slit 36 may be formed at accurate intervals.

[0231] By such processes, an entire shape of the door plate 31 may be formed. In particular, due to a molding structure of the door slit 36, the creases are not generated while the inclined surface 35 is molded, and a curve by which the diffused reflection occurs is not generated.

[0232] The completely molded door plate 31 may be coupled to the upper decoration 33 and the lower decoration 34, and may also be coupled to the freezer compartment door liner 32. And the foaming solution is filled inside the freezer compartment door 30, and forms the insulation.

[0233] FIG. 16 is a partial perspective view of the freezer compartment door.

[0234] As illustrated in the drawing, the door slit 36 may be formed at a side surface of the freezer compartment door 30 close to a bottom hinge 37 which supports a lower end of the freezer compartment door 30, and a covering member 38 is provided inside the freezer compartment door 30 to shield the door slit 36.

[0235] The door slit 36 may be formed at the side surface of the freezer compartment door 30, i.e., the side surface part 313 of the door plate 31 so as to prevent exposure when being seen from a front of the refrigerator 1.

[0236] And the door slit 36 may be formed along the inclined surface 35 at a position close to the inclined surface 35 so as to enable the inclined surface 35 to be easily molded, By the door slit 36, the creases may be prevented from being generated at the door plate 31, and the diffused reflection may be prevented from occurring, even though the inclined surface 35 is molded. The door slit 36 may be formed corresponding to a length of the inclined surface 35, and may be formed to extend to a lower end of the side surface of the freezer compartment door 30.

[0237] Of course, a position at which the door slit 36 is formed is not limited to the above-described implementation, and may be formed at various positions, e.g., a corner portion of the side surface of the inclined surface 35, or one side of the inclined surface 35 which enables the inclined surface 35 to be bent.

[0238] The covering member 38 may be installed inside the freezer compartment door 30. The covering member 38 may be in close contact with an inner side surface of the door plate 31. At this point, a rib part 383 of the covering member 38 is inserted into the door slit 36.

[0239] The rib part 383 may be formed to have the same length and width as those of the door slit 36, and may protrude so as to be on the same plane as that of the side surface of the freezer compartment door 30 while being installed at the door slit 36. Therefore, when the rib part 383 is inserted into the door slit 36, the door slit 36 is filled, and thus prevented from being exposed.

[0240] And the covering member 38 or at least the rib part 383 may be formed to have the same color as that of the outer plate 41. Therefore, the rib part 383 which is exposed to an outside while being inserted into the door slit 36 has a sense of unity with the door plate 31.

[0241] FIG. 17 is an exploded perspective view illustrating a coupling structure of the door plate, the lower decoration and the covering member. And FIG. 18 is a partially cut-away perspective view illustrating a coupling state of the door plate, the lower decoration and the covering member. And FIG. 19 is a cross-sectional view taken along line 19-19' of FIG. 13.

[0242] The covering member 38 and a coupling structure of the covering member 38 will be described with reference to the drawings.

[0243] The lower decoration 34 is formed to correspond to a shape of the lower surface of the freezer compartment door 30 and thus to form the lower surface of the freezer compartment door 30.

[0244] A plate insertion part 341 may be formed to be recessed along an edge of each of a front end and left and right side ends of the lower decoration 34. The plate insertion part 341 forms a space in which the forming part 316 forming a boundary of the door plate 31 is inserted. A plurality of ribs 3411 which are inclined to enable the forming part 316 to be fixed while the forming part 316 is inserted may be formed inside the plate insertion part 341.

[0245] A plate support part 342 which extends upward may be formed at a perimeter of the lower decoration 34 except a rear end thereof. The plate support part 342 may be formed to be in contact with the door plate 31 and thus to support the door plate 31.

[0246] And a liner support part 343 which extends upward may be formed at the rear end of the lower decoration 34. The liner support part 343 is in contact with the freezer compartment door liner 32, and support a lower end of the freezer compartment door liner 32.

[0247] An internal space of the freezer compartment door 30 may form a closed space by the plate support part 342 and the liner support part 343, and the foaming solution may be filled inside the plate support part 342, and may form the insulation.

[0248] And a covering member insertion part 344 which is formed to have a shape corresponding to that of a lower end of the covering member 38 may be formed at a side end of the lower decoration 34. The covering member insertion part 344 may be formed at the side end of the lower decoration 34 to be stepped, and may provide a space in which a lower end of the covering member insertion part 344 is inserted when the door plate 31 and the lower decoration 34 are coupled.

[0249] And a hinge insertion part 345 and an electric wire fixing part 346 which will be described below in detail may be further formed at the lower decoration 34.

[0250] The covering member 38 may be installed and fixed to the lower decoration 34, and may be formed to be in close contact with a corner of one side of the freezer compartment door 30 close to the hinge insertion part 345 at which the bottom hinge 37 is installed.

[0251] Specifically, the covering member 38 may include a first surface 381 which is in contact with the side surface part 313 of the door plate 31, and a second surface 382 which is in contact with the inclined part 312 and the front surface part 311. And a portion at which the first surface 381 and the second surface 382 are in contact with each other is formed to have a curvature corresponding to a bent corner part of the door plate 31.

[0252] A lower end of the first surface 381 extends downward further than a lower end of the second surface 382, and may be inserted into the covering member insertion part 344. And the rib part 383 which protrudes outward may be formed at an outer surface of the first surface 381. The rib part 383 may be formed at a position which is able to be inserted into the door slit 36.

[0253] The second surface 382 may be formed to be in close contact with the inclined surface 35 and a front surface, and may be formed to be bent at an angle corresponding to the inclined surface 35. And the lower end of the second surface 382 is located upward further than the lower end of the first surface 381, and formed so as not to interfere with the plate support part 342.

[0254] While the covering member 38 is installed, an entire outer surface of the covering member 38 may be in close contact with an inner surface of the door plate 31, and may be maintained in a closely contacting state with the door plate 31 by an adhesive. And while the covering member 38 is installed, the rib part 383 may pass through the door slit 36, and may be exposed to the outside.

[0255] FIG. 20 is a perspective view of the lower decoration of the freezer compartment door when being seen from a front. And FIG. 21 is a perspective view of the lower decoration when being seen from an upper side.

[0256] As illustrated in the drawings, a sensing assembly installation part 39 at which the sensing assembly 90 is installed may be formed to be recessed from one side of the lower decoration 34. The sensing assembly installation part 39 may be formed at an external space of the plate support part 342. Therefore, the sensing assembly 90 may be installed at the sensing assembly installation part 39 after or before the foaming solution for forming the insulation is injected into a separate space which is partitioned from the space in which the insulation is formed.

[0257] The sensing assembly installation part 39 is disposed at one end opposite to a portion at which the bottom hinge 37 supporting the freezer compartment door 30 is installed. That is, the sensing assembly installation part 39 may be formed at one end close to the pair of freezer compartment doors 30. Therefore, the sensing assembly 90 installed at the sensing assembly installation part 39 may be located up and down on an extension line of the second detection device 81. Also, the installation hole 351 may be disposed at a front of the sensing assembly installation part 39.

[0258] The sensing assembly installation part 39 may be in communication with a space, which is formed above the lower decoration 34, through an electric wire guide hole 348. Therefore, the electric wires L which are connected to the sensing assembly 90 may be introduced into the lower decoration 34 through the electric wire guide hole 348, and may be guided along an inside of the lower decoration 34 to a lower cap decoration electric wire hole 347 which is formed at the other side of the lower decoration 34.

[0259] At this point, a plurality of electric wire fixing parts 346 may be formed at an inner surface of the lower decoration 34 in an arrangement direction of the electric wires, and the electric wires L may be maintained in the closely contacting state with the electric wire fixing parts 346. Therefore, even while the foaming solution is being injected inside the freezer compartment door 30, a position of the electric wires L may not be deviated, but may be fixed.

[0260] The hinge insertion part 345 is formed at another side of the lower decoration 34 which is distant from the sensing assembly installation part 39. The hinge insertion part 345 may be formed to extend upward, and may be formed in a boss shape in which a hinge shaft of the bottom hinge 37 is accommodated.

[0261] The lower cap decoration electric wire hole 347 is formed at a bottom surface of the lower decoration 34 close to the hinge insertion part 345. The electric wires L which are connected to the sensing assembly 90 may be guided to an outside of the lower decoration 34 through the lower cap decoration electric wire hole 347. At this point, the electric wires L may extend toward the cabinet 10 via a side of the bottom hinge 37, and may be connected to a main control part 2.

[0262] FIG. 22 is a partial perspective view of the sensing assembly installation part of a lower decoration.

[0263] As illustrated in the drawing, the sensing assembly installation part 39 may be formed at one side end of the lower decoration 34. The sensing assembly installation part 39 may be formed to be recessed inward in a minimum depth which forms a space for accommodating the sensing assembly 90. That is, the insulation may be formed at a rear of the sensing assembly installation part 39, and thus insulation performance of the freezer compartment door 30 may be maintained.

[0264] In particular, the sensing assembly 90 may be installed inside the sensing assembly installation part 39 so as to be inclined. Therefore, the sensing assembly 90 having a long length may be installed at a limited inside of the freezer compartment door 30 while maintaining an insulation space.

[0265] The plate support part 342 may be formed along an edge of the sensing assembly installation part 39. The sensing assembly installation part 39 may be formed so that a left surface and a front surface thereof are opened. Therefore, when the lower decoration 34 is injection-molded, an inside of the sensing assembly installation part 39 may be easily molded.

[0266] The sensing assembly installation part 39 may include an assembly accommodation part 391 and a connector accommodation part 392. The assembly accommodation part 391 is a space in which the sensing assembly 90 is accommodated, and may be formed at one side end of the lower decoration 34.

[0267] The assembly accommodation part 391 may be formed to be inclined, and thus to support a rear surface of the sensing assembly 90 which is disposed to be inclined with respect to the ground. That is, while the sensing assembly 90 is completely installed, a rear end of the sensing assembly 90 is in contact with an inner surface of the assembly accommodation part 391.

[0268] An assembly guide 394 may be formed at a bottom surface of the assembly accommodation part 391. The assembly guide 394 may be formed in a shape having a plurality of ribs which are continuously disposed at regular intervals. And a plurality of assembly guides 394 may be formed to have the same shape, and may be formed to connect an inner surface 393 of the assembly accommodation part 391 with the bottom surface of the lower decoration 34.

[0269] The assembly guide 394 may be formed vertically long, and a guide inclined part 395 may be formed at an end of the assembly guide 394 which is directed toward the door plate 31. The guide inclined part 395 may be formed at a front end of the assembly guide 394 to be inclined gradually upward toward the inner surface 393 of the assembly accommodation part 391.

[0270] The guide inclined part 395 may include a first inclined part 3951 which extends from the front end of the assembly guide 394, and a second inclined part 3952 which extends from a rear end of the first inclined part 3951 to a rear end of the assembly guide 394.

[0271] The first inclined part 3951 may be formed to have a larger slope than that of the second inclined part 3952. Therefore, when the sensing assembly 90 is installed, rear ends of cases 93 and 94 may be in contact with the first inclined part 3951, and may be moved backward, and may also be easily inserted into the inner surface 393 of the assembly accommodation part 391.

[0272] The slope of the second inclined part 3952 may be the same as that of the sensing assembly 90 when the sensing assembly 90 is completely installed. That is, when the sensing assembly 90 is installed, a lower end of the sensing assembly 90 may be supported by the second inclined part 3952, and the sensing assembly 90 is completely inserted along the second inclined part 3952. And in a state in which the sensing assembly 90 is completely inserted, the lower end of the sensing assembly 90 is supported, and an installed position of the sensing assembly 90 is not changed.

[0273] The connector accommodation part 392 may be formed at a lateral side of the assembly accommodation part 391. The connector accommodation part 392 forms a space in which sensing assembly connectors 912 and 922 for connecting the sensing assembly 90 with the main control part 2 are accommodated. Therefore, the connector accommodation part 392 may be formed to have a size relatively smaller than the assembly accommodation part 391. And the electric wire guide hole 348 may be formed above the connector accommodation part 392.

[0274] Therefore, when the sensing assembly 90 is installed, a first connector 912 connected to the sensing assembly 90 and a second connector 922 connected to the main control part 2 are first connected from an outside of the freezer compartment door 30, and then the sensing assembly 90 is inserted into the assembly accommodation part 391. At this point, the first connector 912 and the second connector 922 which are connected to each other are located at a side of the connector accommodation part 392.

[0275] FIG. 23 is a perspective view of the sensing assembly according to the implementation of the present disclosure when being seen from a front. And FIG. 24 is a perspective view of the sensing assembly when being seen from a rear. And FIG. 25 is an exploded perspective view of the sensing assembly when being seen from one direction. And FIG. 26 is an exploded perspective view of the sensing assembly when being seen from another direction. And FIG. 27 is a longitudinal cross-sectional view of the sensing assembly.

[0276] As illustrated in the drawings, the sensing assembly 90 includes a projector 91 which projects an image which induces a user' operation, and the first detection device 92 which detects the user's operation at an area of the image projected by the projector 91. And the projector 91 and the first detection device 92 may be formed in one module.

[0277] More specifically, an external appearance of the sensing assembly 90 may be formed by the pair of cases 93 and 94, and a case cover 95 which shields open front surfaces of the cases 93 and 94. And all of the projector 91 and the first detection device 92 may be installed inside the cases 93 and 94.

[0278] At this point, the projector 91 and the first detection device 92 are disposed vertically, and the projector 91 is located under the first detection device 92. Since the projector 91 is located under the first detection device 92, a position of the image projected from an appropriate position may be ensured. When the projector 91 is located above the first detection device 92, a projecting distance is relatively elongated, and thus a possibility of misrecognition is increased, and also a quality of the projected image may be degraded.

[0279] The cases 93 and 94 may include a first case 93 and a second case 94 which form both left and right sides. The first case 93 and the second case 94 are coupled to each other so that the projector 91 and the first detection device 92 are accommodated therein.

[0280] Rear surfaces of the first case 93 and the second case 94 may be coupled to each other by a coupling hook 941 and a hook groove 931. The coupling hook 941 may be inserted into the hook groove 931, and the coupling hook 941 and the hook groove 931 may be formed at the first case 93 and the second case 94, respectively.

[0281] And front surfaces of the first case 93 and the second case 94 may be may be fixed by coupling of the case cover 95. To this end, side hooks 932 and 942 may be formed at both side surfaces of the first case 93 and the second case 94, and may be inserted into a hook restriction part 951 provided at the case cover 95 so as to be restricted to each other.

[0282] And a fastening hole 943 in which a fastening member 9431 such as a screw and a bolt is inserted may be formed at the second case 94, and a fastening boss 933 in which the fastening member 9431 is fastened may be formed inside the first case 93.

[0283] A first PCB hole 901 and a second PCB hole 902 through which an LED PCB 911 and a detection device PCB 921 are exposed may be formed at the rear surfaces of the cases 93 and 94. The first PCB hole 901 may be formed at a position corresponding to the LED PCB 911, and also formed smaller than the LED PCB 911. The electric wire L which is connected to the LED PCB 911 may pass through the first PCB hole 901.

[0284] And the second PCB hole 902 may be formed at a position corresponding to the detection device PCB 921 for an operation of the first detection device 92. The electric wire L which is connected to the detection device PCB 921 may pass through the second PCB hole 902.

[0285] The first connector 912 which is connected to the electric wires L of the LED PCB 911 and the detection device PCB 921 may be connected to the second connector 922 which is connected to the main control part 2, and may be disposed at the connector accommodation part 392.

[0286] A film slot 934 in which a film 913 having characters or symbols indicated on the image to be projected on a floor surface on which the refrigerator 1 sits may be formed at one side of the first case 93. A width of the film slot 934 may be formed larger than a thickness of the film 913, and thus the film 913 may be inserted and installed from an outside of the cases 93 and 94 into the cases 93 and 94.

[0287] Since the film 913 may be formed in a very thin plate shape, when the film 913 is installed in the cases 93 and 94, and then the first case 93 and the second case 94 are assembled, the film 913 may be pressed or bent and thus may be deformed or damaged. Therefore, to prevent a damage of the film 913, a structure in which the film 913 is inserted from the outside of the cases 93 and 94 through the film slot 934 may be provided.

[0288] Meanwhile, a film groove 944 may be formed at an inner surface of the second case 94 corresponding to the film slot 934. The film groove 944 may be recessed from the inner surface of the second case 94 so that the film 913 is inserted therein. Therefore, an end of the film 913 may be inserted and fixed into a space like a gap formed by the film groove 944.

[0289] The film groove 944 may be formed to correspond to one end of the inserted film 913. And a corner of one end of the film 913 may be formed to be inclined, and thus may be inserted with directivity, like a SD card. And the film groove 944 may be formed correspondingly. Therefore, the film 913 may be inserted in only one direction, and thus the film 913 may be prevented from being erroneously installed. For example, the film 913 may be prevented from being reversely installed or being installed at an inaccurate position.

[0290] And to prevent the film 913 from being deformed, a reinforcing plate having a corresponding shape may be further provided at a front surface or a rear surface of the film 913. The reinforcing plate may be formed of a transparent material through which light is transmitted, and may be formed to have the same shape as that of the film 913.

[0291] The projector 91 is disposed at a lower portion inside the cases 93 and 94. To dispose the projector 91, a projection part 930 having a circular cross section may be formed inside the cases 93 and 94. The projector 91 disposed inside the projection part 930 may include the LED PCB 911, the film 913 and a plurality of lenses 914.

[0292] Specifically, the LED PCB 911 is located at the rearmost of the cases 93 and 94, and an LED 9111 mounted on the LED PCB 911 emits light toward the film 913. To fix the LED PCB 911, a PCB fixing part 935 may be formed at the projection part 930. The PCB fixing part 935 may be recessed so that a corner of the LED PCB 911 is inserted therein.

[0293] And the film groove 944 in which the film 913 is inserted may be formed at a front of the PCB fixing part 935. The film groove 944 may be formed between the LED PCB 911 and the lenses 914. A position of the film groove 944 may be determined so that the projected image is formed clearly.

[0294] A plurality of build-down grooves 936 which extend in forward and backward directions may be formed at a circumference of the projection part 930 at which the film groove 944 is formed. The plurality of build-down grooves 936 may be provided along the circumference of the projection part 930, and serves to prevent deformation due to contraction when the cases 93 and 94 are injection-molded.

[0295] The plurality of lenses 914 may be provided at a front of the film groove 944. The plurality of lenses 914 may be disposed at regular intervals, and may control a focal distance of the projected image by adjusting a distance between the lenses 914. Therefore, the distance between the plurality of lenses 914 may be adjusted so that the image clearly forms on the floor surface on which the refrigerator 1 is installed.

[0296] And lens grooves 937 in which the lenses 914 are installed may be formed at the projection part 930. The distance between the lenses 914 may be determined according to a distance between the lens grooves 937. The plurality of lenses 914 disposed at the projection part 930 may be provided. However, it is preferable that three lenses 914 be used, considering the space of the assembly accommodation part 391.

[0297] The image projected on the floor surface may be further clear by using more lenses 914. However, when the number of lenses 914 is increased, a length of the projector 91 is increased, and thus there may be a problem that the sensing assembly 90 may not be installed inside the freezer compartment door 30 having a limited thickness.

[0298] A front surface of the projection part 930 may be formed to be opened. The open front surface of the projection part 930 may be shielded by the case cover 95. And the light which is emitted from the LED 9111 and passes through the film 913 and the lenses 914 may pass through a projecting hole 952 of the case cover 95, and then may be projected on the floor surface.

[0299] A detection part 940 may be formed above the projection part 930, i.e., an upper portion of the cases 93 and 94. The detection part 940 is a portion in which the first detection device 92 is accommodated, and may be formed in a shape corresponding to the first detection device 92.

[0300] The first detection device 92 serves to detect whether a user's foot is located at an area of the image projected by the projector 91, and may use a device which detects a user' approach. For example, like the second detection device 81, the PSD sensor which emits and receives the infrared light may be used as the first detection device 92. However, a detection distance of each of the first detection device 92 and the second detection device 81 may be set different from each other due to a difference in an installation position thereof and an object to be detected. The first detection device 92 may have a detection distance of 10 cm to 15 cm corresponding to a distance to the floor surface on which the image projected by the projector 91 is formed.

[0301] Meanwhile, in the first detection device 92, a light emitting part 923 and a light receiving part 924 may be disposed up and down. And a barrier 925 is provided between the first detection device 92 and the case cover 95. The barrier 925 may be formed so that both ends thereof are in contact with a front surface of the first detection device 92 and a rear surface of the case cover 95, respectively. And the barrier 925 divides the light emitting part 923 and the light receiving part 924. Therefore, the infrared light emitted from the light emitting part 923 may be prevented from being reflected by the case cover 95 and being directed to the light receiving part 924.

[0302] While the sensing assembly 90 is installed at the inclined surface 35 of the freezer compartment door 30 to be inclined, the first detection device 92 is installed inside the cases 93 and 94 to be intersected with the inclined surface 35. And the first detection device 92 and the case cover 95 are disposed in a direction which are spaced apart from each other and intersected with each other. In this state, when some of the light emitted from the light emitting part 923 collides with the case cover 95, the light may be reflected and then may be introduced into the light receiving part 924.

[0303] However, when the light emitting part 923 and the light receiving part 924 are divided by the barrier 925, the infrared light emitted by the light emitting part 923 penetrates the case cover 95, and the light reflected by the floor surface or the user may penetrate the case cover 95, and then may be introduced into the light receiving part 924.

[0304] The barrier 925 may be formed inside the cases 93 and 94, and may be integrally formed with the cases 93 and 94. Of course, the barrier 925 may also be integrally formed with the first detection device 92 or the case cover 95.

[0305] The open front surface of the detection part 940 may be shielded by the case cover 95. That is, all of the open front surfaces of the projection part 930 and the detection part 940 may be shielded by the case cover 95.

[0306] The case cover 95 may be formed of a transparent material through which the light is transmitted, and the projecting hole 952 may be formed at a portion thereof corresponding to the projection part 930. A protrusion part 953 may be formed at an area corresponding to each of a circumference of the projecting hole 952 and the detection part 940.

[0307] A flange 954 may be formed at the rear surface of the case cover 95 to extend backward along a perimeter of the case cover 95. And the hook restriction part 951 which extends backward may be formed at both sides of the case cover 95. The side hook 932 formed at the cases 93 and 94 is hooked and restricted by the hook restriction part 951.

[0308] A cover fixing hook 956 which enables the case cover 95 to be hooked and fixed to the installation hole 351 may be formed at both sides of the case cover 95. By the cover fixing hook 956, the sensing assembly 90 may be maintained in an installed and fixed state to the sensing assembly installation part 39.

[0309] Meanwhile, a decoration plate 96 is attached on the front surface of the case cover 95. The decoration plate 86 may be formed of the same metallic material as that of the door plate 31. And the decoration plate 96 may be formed to have the same shape as that of the front surface of the case cover 95, and also formed to cover the entire front surface of the case cover 95.

[0310] Plate holes 961 and 962 in which the protrusion parts 953 of the case cover 95 are inserted may be formed at the decoration plate 96. Therefore, the decoration plate 96 may be coupled to the case cover 95.

[0311] When the sensing assembly 90 is installed, the decoration plate 96 is exposed through the installation hole 351 formed at the inclined surface 35 of the freezer compartment door 30, and may have the sense of unity with the door plate 31.

[0312] Meanwhile, a separate clear cover may be further provided at the open projecting hole 952. The clear cover may shield the projecting hole 952 to prevent foreign substances from entering, and may also be formed to transmit the light projected from the projector 91. Of course, the case cover 95 may be formed so that the projecting hole 952 and the clear cover are not provided, and the light projected from the projector 91 penetrates the transparent case cover 95, and is projected.

[0313] FIGS. 28A to 28C are views illustrating an installation process of the sensing assembly.

[0314] As illustrated in the drawings, to install the sensing assembly 90 at the freezer compartment door 30, while the molding of the freezer compartment door 30 is completed, as illustrated in FIG. 28A, the second connector 922 provided to the electric wire L connected to the main control part 2 is taken out through the installation hole 351, and then coupled to the first connector 912 connected to the sensing assembly 90.

[0315] While the first connector 912 and the second connector 922 are connected to each other, the first connector 912 and the second connector 922 which are coupled to each other are pushed inside the connector accommodation part 392, and then the sensing assembly 90 is inserted into the installation hole 351.

[0316] When the rear surface of the sensing assembly 90 is inserted into the installation hole 351, lower surfaces of the cases 93 and 94 are in contact with the assembly guide 394. That is, as illustrated in FIG. 29B, the lower surfaces of the cases 93 and 94 may be moved while being in contact with the first inclined part 3951.

[0317] When the sensing assembly 90 is continuously pushed in a rear, the lower surfaces of the cases 93 and 94 are moved along the second inclined part 3952, and rear ends of the cases 93 and 94 are in contact with the inner surface 393 of the assembly accommodation part 391, and are in a state illustrated in FIG. 28C.

[0318] While the sensing assembly 90 is completely inserted and installed, the second inclined part 3952 supports the sensing assembly 90 from a lower side. And the case cover 95 may be fixed in the installation hole 351 by the cover fixing hook 956 of the case cover 95.

[0319] And while the fixing and installing of the sensing assembly 90 is completed, the front surface of the case cover 95 or the decoration plate 96 is located on the same plane as that of the front surface of the inclined surface 35, and shields the installation hole 351.

[0320] Hereinafter, an image projecting method by the sensing assembly 90 and a detecting method of the first detection device 92 will be described.

[0321] FIG. 29 is a view illustrating an image projecting state through the projector of the sensing assembly. And FIG. 30 is an enlarged view of an A area of FIG. 29.

[0322] As illustrated in the drawings, a predetermined image is projected on the floor surface, on which the refrigerator 1 is installed, by the projector 91 of the sensing assembly 90 so as to induce the user's operation.

[0323] The light emitted from the LED 9111 of the LED PCB 911 passes through the film 913, and the light passes through the film 913 passes through the plurality of lenses 914. The light passing through the lenses 914 passes through a focal point, and indicates the characters T provided at the film 913 on the floor surface.

[0324] At this point, the sensing assembly 90 has limitation in a length and a size thereof due to structural characteristics of the insulated freezer compartment door 30. Therefore, in the projector 91, an aspheric lens which enables the light to straightly penetrate the film 913 may be omitted to increase definition of the image, and thus the size thereof may be reduced. However, due to omission of the aspheric lens, an intensity of the light incident to a surface of the film 913 may not be constant, and thus the image may not be clearly formed.

[0325] Therefore, to solve the problems, the intensity of the light is increased by moving the film 913 toward the LED 9111, and the characters T on the film 913 may be formed in a high-resolution printing method, and thus the characters may be clearly formed on the floor surface.

[0326] When the image is projected on an inclined floor surface, uniformity of the image indicated on the floor surface is degraded by a difference in the intensity of light due to a difference in the projecting distance between a first half portion and a second half portion.

[0327] Specifically, due to a characteristic of the light emitted from the inclined surface 35 of the freezer compartment door 30 toward the floor surface, a side close to the front surface of the freezer compartment door 30 has a short projecting distance and thus a high intensity of light, and a side distant from the front surface of the freezer compartment door 30 has a long projecting distance and thus a low intensity of light. Therefore, there is a problem that a size of the characters T indicated by the image displayed on the floor surface is changed according to whether the image is located close to or distant from the freezer compartment door 30. Also, due to the difference in the intensity of light, the characters T formed on the floor surface close to the freezer compartment door 30 is spread, or the characters T formed on the floor surface distant from the freezer compartment door 30 becomes dark.

[0328] To solve the problems, the characters T formed on the film 913 is compensated, and thus even when the image is projected on the inclined floor surface, the entire characters T may be clearly formed with a normal rate.

[0329] Specifically, as illustrated in FIG. 30, in the characters T printed on the film 913, an area of a portion corresponding to a word "Door" is formed widely, and an area of a portion corresponding to a word "Open" is formed narrowly, and thus the entire portion may be formed in a trapezoidal shape. For understanding of the description, the certain characters have been described. However, even in the case of another characters, pictures or figures, the picture or the figure printed on the film 913 may be formed to have a width which becomes narrower downward.

[0330] When the light is emitted from the LED 9111 to the film 913 on which the characters T are printed as described above, the characters T of the image indicated on the relatively inclined floor surface may be indicated with the same vertical width rate, regardless of the difference in the projecting distance. Also, brightness and definition of the side close to or distant from the freezer compartment door 30 may be relatively improved, and thus the user may easily recognize the characters T.

[0331] FIG. 31 is a view illustrating a detection area and an image projecting area by the sensing assembly.

[0332] As illustrated in the drawing, the sensing assembly 90 may be installed at the sensing assembly installation part 39. The sensing assembly 90 may be supported inclinedly by the assembly guide 394. And the front surface of the sensing assembly 90 is located at the inclined surface 35 of the freezer compartment door 30. Therefore, the image may be formed on the floor surface located at a front of the refrigerator 1 by the light emitted from the projector 91, and a corresponding position may be detected by the first detection device 92. At this point, all of a position of the image formed on the floor surface and a detection position by the first detection device 92 may be determined by an angle of the inclined surface 35.

[0333] More specifically, the inclined surface 35 of the freezer compartment door 30 may be formed to have an angle of about 20° to 30° with respect to the front surface of the freezer compartment door 30. When the inclined surface 35 has an angle of less than 20°, the image is projected at a too long distance from the freezer compartment 13, and thus a shape of the image formed on the floor surface is also unclear or distorted.

[0334] In particular, the detection distance for detecting the user's operation by the first detection device 92 is too far, and thus in a situation in which the user does not want a door opening operation, the door opening device 70 may be operated due to misrecognition. That is, in a situation in which a person or an animal just passes the refrigerator 1, or in a situation in which an object is located or moved at a front of the refrigerator 1, the situation may be misrecognized as an opening operation of the main door 40, and thus the door opening device 70 may be driven.

[0335] Also, when the angle of the inclined surface 35 is more than 30°, the image projected from the projector 91 is formed at a side which is too close to the front surface of the refrigerator 1, and the detection position of the user's operation by the first detection device 92 is also too close to the freezer compartment door 30.

[0336] In this case, the user should approach a position close to the refrigerator 1 to operate the main door 40. In this state, when the door opening device 70 is driven, the user may collide with the main door 40 which is automatically opened.

[0337] Also, when the inclined surface 35 has a too large angle, the bottom hinge 37, the cover which shields the bottom hinge 37 or other elements provided at the lower end of the freezer compartment door 30 may be exposed. And a leg 14 which supports the cabinet 10 at a lower surface of the cabinet 10 may be exposed, and thus the external appearance may be degraded.

[0338] Considering the situation, it is preferable that the inclined surface 35 have the angle of about 20° to 30°. In this state, the user's foot may be detected at a distance of 5 cm to 10 cm from the front surface of the freezer compartment door 30.

[0339] Therefore, when the main door 40 is opened, the user's operation may be performed at a position at which the user does not collide with the main door 40. In particular, when the image is projected from the inclined surface 35 on the floor surface, and the user's foot is moved to a space under the inclined surface 35, the user's foot may be detected and thus the possibility of the misrecognition may be considerably reduced.

[0340] Hereinafter, an operation of the refrigerator 1 according to the implementation of the present disclosure having the above-described structure will be described.

[0341] FIG. 32 is a block diagram illustrating a flow of a control signal of the refrigerator.

[0342] As illustrated in the drawing, the refrigerator 1 includes the main control part 2 which controls the operation of the refrigerator 1, and the main control part 2 may be connected to the reed switch 4011. The reed switch 4011 may be provided at the main hinge 401, and may detect the opening of the main door 40.

[0343] And the main control part 2 may be connected to the main lighting unit 85 provided inside the cabinet 10, and may illuminate the inside of the refrigerator 1 when the refrigerating compartment door 20 or the main door 40 is opened. And the main control part 2 may be connected to the door lighting unit 49, and may turn on the door lighting unit 49 when the sub-door 50 is opened or when a signal of the knock detection device 82 is input.

[0344] The main control part 2 may be connected to the display unit 50, may control an operation of the display unit 60, and may display operation information of the refrigerator 1 through the display unit 60 or may operate various functions.

[0345] The main control part 2 may be directly or indirectly connected to the first detection device 92, the second detection device 81, the knock detection device 82 and the projector 91, and may receive an operation signal by them, or may control the operation.

[0346] And the main control part 2 may be connected to the door opening device 70, and the door opening device 70 may be driven according to the user's operation so that the main door 40 is automatically opened.

[0347] FIGS. 33A and 33B are views illustrating an opening operation state of the main door. And FIG. 34 is a flowchart sequentially illustrating an operation of the door opening device.

[0348] As illustrated in the drawings, when electric power is applied to the refrigerator 1 while the refrigerator 1 is installed, the refrigerator 1 may enter a standby state for the opening of the main door 40 through an initial operation [S100].

[0349] In a state in which the initial operation is completed by supplying the electric power, a standby operation is performed. And in the standby operation, the refrigerator 1 waits to detect the user's operation for opening the main door 40.

[0350] As illustrated in FIG. 33A, in a state in which the refrigerator 1 is in the standby operation, when the user stands in front of the refrigerator 1 while holding an object in his/her hands, the user's position is recognized by the second detection device 81. And when the second detection device 81 recognizes that the user is located within a detection range, the projector 91 is operated, and projects the image on the floor surface on which the refrigerator 1 is installed.

[0351] In this state, when the user's foot is moved to a lower side of the inclined surface 35 at which the freezer compartment door 30 is formed, at least a part of the image projected on the floor surface may be covered, as illustrated in FIG. 33B. And the first detection device 92 may detect that the user's foot is located at the area of the image projected by the projector 91, and thus may transmit a signal for opening the main door 40 [S200].

[0352] In the standby operation, when the signal for opening the main door 40 is input, the door opening device 70 starts to be driven, and an opening operation in which the main door 40 is automatically opened is performed, and the main door 40 is rotated at a preset angle.

[0353] The main door 40 which is rotated at the preset angle may be opened so as to be spaced apart from the front surface of the adjacent refrigerating compartment 12, and the user may put his/her elbow in an open space, and may further open the main door 40.

[0354] While the main door 40 is opened, a stopping operation after opening is performed so that the main door 40 is maintained in an opened state for a preset time. Therefore, the main door 40 may be maintained in the opened state [S400].

[0355] Meanwhile, when the preset time passes after the main door 40 is opened, the door opening device 70 performs a returning operation. In the returning operation, the main door 40 is rotated by its own weight, and shields the refrigerating compartment 12. When the refrigerator 1 is installed, the refrigerator 1 is disposed to be inclined, such that the front surface thereof is somewhat higher than the rear surface thereof. This is to enable the doors to be closed by their own weights when an external force is removed after the door of the refrigerator 1 including the main door 40 is opened.

[0356] When the returning operation is completed, the refrigerator 1 is again in the standby operation which detects the user's operation. This process may be repeated, and the refrigerator 1 is maintained in a standby operation state after the electric power is applied [S500].

[0357] Meanwhile, when the main door 40 is further opened by the user's operation while the main door 40 is being opened, an emergency returning signal is generated. The door opening device 70 may perform an emergency returning operation, and thus may rapidly return the push rod 77. Therefore, the main door 40 may be prevented from colliding with the push rod 77, and damage of the push rod 77 or the door opening device 70 may be prevented [S600].

[0358] Hereinafter, each operation state will be described in detail with reference to the drawings.

[0359] FIG. 35 is a flowchart sequentially illustrating the initial operation of the door opening device.

[0360] As illustrated in the drawing, when the initial operation is started, the electric power is applied to the refrigerator 1 [S110]. When the electric power is applied, it is determined whether the first hall sensor 741 is in the ON state [S120]. When the first hall sensor 741 is in the ON state, a normal operation may be performed at an initial state in which the push rod 77 is completely inserted. Therefore, when the first hall sensor 741 is in the ON state, the driving motor 73 is not operated, and the refrigerator 1 enters the standby operation state [S130].

[0361] When the first hall sensor 741 is not in the ON state, the push rod 77 is not located at an initial position, and thus the driving motor 73 is reversely rotated so that the first hall sensor 741 is in the ON state [S140].

[0362] Meanwhile, in a state in which the driving motor 73 starts to be reversely rotated, if the first hall sensor 741 is not in the ON state even when the preset time (e.g., 5 seconds) passes, it is determined that the door opening device 70 is abnormal [S150], and the driving motor 73 is stopped, and an error signal is generated [S160]. To enable the user to confirm generation of the error signal, the display unit 60 codes a current state, and then outputs an error code [S170].

[0363] FIG. 36 is a flowchart sequentially illustrating the standby operation of the door opening device.

[0364] As illustrated in the drawing, when the standby operation is started, first it is determined through the reed switch 4011 whether the main door 40 is in a closed state. While the reed switch 4011 is switched on, the main door 40 may be automatically opened. However, while the reed switch 4011 is switched off, the main door 40 is opened, and thus the door opening device 70 is not operated [S210].

[0365] In a state in which the reed switch 4011 is in the ON state, the second detection device 81 first detects the user's approach. At this point, the second detection device 81 is located at a height of about 1 m from the ground, and the detection distance may be within a range of about 1 m from the front surface of the refrigerator 1 [S220].

[0366] When the second detection device 81 is turned on, the projector 91 is also turned on, and the light is emitted from the LED 9111, and thus the image is projected to the lower side of the inclined surface 35. Therefore, the user may confirm the characters indicated on the floor surface located at a front of the freezer compartment door 30, and may move his/her foot to a position of the characters in a state in which his/her hands cannot be used [S230].

[0367] At this point, since the area of the image projected on the floor surface is within the detection distance of the first detection device 92, when the user's foot is located at the position of the characters, the first detection device 92 may detect the user's foot. The first detection device 92 is maintained in a detecting state for a preset time, and when the preset time passes [S240], the detecting state is released, and the projector 91 is also turned off [S280].

[0368] When the user's foot is located at the area of the characters, and the first detection device 92 detects the user's foot [S250], the main control part 2 inputs an opening signal of the main door 40 [S260]. The main door 40 performs the opening operation by inputting of the opening signal of the main door 40 [S270].

[0369] FIG. 37 is a flowchart sequentially illustrating the opening operation of the door opening device. And FIG. 38 is a view illustrating a duty change according to an FG pulse count during the opening operation.

[0370] As illustrated in the drawings, when the opening operation is started, the driving motor 73 is normally rotated [S310]. Movement of the push rod 77 which is located at the initial position is started by normal rotation of the driving motor 73. That is, while the first hall sensor 741 is in the ON state, the driving motor 73 is normally rotated until when the second hall sensor 742 is in the ON state by the movement of the push rod 77 [S310].

[0371] The push rod 77 may protrude by the normal rotation of the driving motor 73, and may push the cabinet 10 so that the main door 40 is opened. And the driving motor 73 may be controlled to be driven while reducing duty. That is, when the driving motor 73 is driving at the same speed, the main door 40 may be rolled by inertia at a moment when the opening of the main door 40 is completed and then the main door 40 is stopped. However, when a speed of the driving motor 73 is reduced before the opening of the main door 40 is completed, rolling of the main door 40 at a moment when the opening of the main door 40 is completed may be reduced.

[0372] As illustrated in FIG. 38, the driving motor 73 may be driven with a duty of 200 at a first opening section O1 in which the FG is 270. And the driving motor 73 may be driven with a duty of 170 at a second opening section 02 in which the FG is 300. And the driving motor 73 may be driven with a duty of 135 at a third opening section 03 in which the FG is 325. And the driving motor 73 may be driven with a duty of 100 at a last fourth opening section 04 in which the FG is 340.

[0373] Like this, at an early stage in which the main door 40 is opened, the driving motor 73 may be rotated at the highest speed, and the opening of the main door 40 may be rapidly performed. As the opening of the main door 40 is being performed, the rotating speed of the driving motor 73 is reduced in stages, and thus the rolling of the main door 40 may be prevented when the opening of the main door 40 is completed.

[0374] Meanwhile, in the case in which the second hall sensor 742 is not turned on even when the preset time (e.g., 5 seconds) passes after the normal rotation of the driving motor 73 is started, the door opening device 70 is abnormal, and thus the error signal is generated, and thus a corresponding error code may be output through the display unit 60. And since the opening operation of the main door 40 may not be continuously performed, the returning operation is started.

[0375] And in a state in which the preset time does not pass after the normal rotation of the driving motor 73 is started, the opening operation of the main door 40 is continuously performed [S330]. At this point, when a person or an object is located at a front of the main door 40 which is close to the main door 40, the main door 40 may be in a state which is not opened.

[0376] That is, while the opening operation of the main door 40 is being performed, the opening of the main door 40 may be obstructed by an external factor [S340]. In such as state, the main door 40 may not be rotated at a normal or preset rotating speed. Therefore, the main control part 2 checks the FG counter of the driving motor 73, and outputs the error code through the display unit 60 when the FG counter at each opening section is less than a preset number [S350]. And the main control part 2 determines that the opening of the main door 40 is obstructed, and performs the returning operation.

[0377] Therefore, an impact may be prevented from being exerted to the user by the rotation of the main door 40, and the door opening device 70 may also be prevented from being broken by excessive driving of the door opening device 70.

[0378] Meanwhile, when the push rod 77 is moved to a position at which the second hall sensor 742 is turned on, the stopping operation after opening is started.

[0379] FIG. 39 is a flowchart sequentially illustrating the stopping operation after opening of the door opening device.

[0380] As illustrated in the drawing, when the stopping operation after opening is started, the driving motor 73 is continuously maintained in the normal rotation state. At this point, the driving motor 73 is operated while maintaining a constant duty in a normal direction. At this point, the duty of the driving motor 73 is 12 at which the push rod 77 exerts a force toward the main door 40 to just support the main door 40, such that the main door 40 is not pushed and closed, and does not further open the main door 40 [S410].

[0381] The driving motor 73 is maintained in the normal rotation state for a preset time (e.g., 3 seconds), and when the preset time passes, the returning operation is performed [S240].

[0382] And the user may push the main door 40 to close the opened main door 40 before the preset time passes. Therefore, when an external force is applied to the main door 40, the returning operation is performed to protect the door opening device 70.

[0383] At this point, in determining whether the external force is applied to the main door 40, when the FG of the driving motor 73 is 3 or more, and it is determined that the driving motor 73 is reversely rotated about one revolution, an external force detection signal is input to the main control part 2. The main control part 2 starts the returning operation when the external force detection signal is input [S340].

[0384] FIG. 40 is a flowchart sequentially illustrating the returning operation of the door opening device. And FIG. 41 is a view illustrating a duty change during the returning operation according to the FG pulse count.

[0385] When the door returning operation is started, first, the driving motor 73 in the normal rotation state is stopped suddenly (e.g., for 10 msec) [S510]. After the driving motor 73 is stopped, the driving motor 73 is reversely rotated to return the push rod 77 [S520].

[0386] The refrigerating compartment door 20 including the main door 40 may have the French door structure. When the refrigerating compartment door 20 is closed, resistance is generated by an influence of a filler which seals between the main door 40 and the refrigerating compartment door 20 when the main door 40 is closed.

[0387] Therefore, to prevent the main door 40 from being not completely closed by the filler when the main door 40 is closed, the main door 40 is closed at a high speed. And also to prevent a shock and a noise generated when the main door 40 is closed, the rotating speed is reduced at the moment.

[0388] As illustrated in FIG. 41, in a state in which the opening of the main door 40 is completed, the FG of the driving motor is 340. The driving motor 73 is driven with a duty of 200 at a first closing section C1 in which the FG is 70. And the driving motor 73 is driven with a duty of 180 at a second closing section C2 in which the FG is 45. And driving motor 73 is driven with a duty of 140 at a third closing section C3 in which the FG is 25. And driving motor 73 is driven with a duty of 100 at a last fourth closing section C4 in which the FG is 0.

[0389] The push rod 77 is moved by reverse rotation of the driving motor 73, and the second hall sensor 742 is turned off, and the driving motor 73 is reversely rotated until the first hall sensor 741 is turned on. And when the first hall sensor 741 is turned on, and it is confirmed that the push rod 77 is returned to the initial position [S530], the driving motor 73 is stopped, and enters the standby operation state [S540].

[0390] Meanwhile, in the case in which the first hall sensor 741 is not in the ON state even when the driving motor 73 is reversely rotated for a preset time (e.g., 5 seconds) or more [S550], the door opening device 70 is abnormal, and thus the error signal is output. And the error code is displayed through the display unit 60, and it is returned to the standby operation [S560].

[0391] FIG. 42 is a flowchart sequentially illustrating the emergency returning operation of the door opening device. And FIG. 43 is a view illustrating a duty change according to the FG pulse count during the emergency returning operation.

[0392] The door opening device 70 may emergently return the push rod 77 to protect the door opening device 70.

[0393] During the opening operation, or the stopping operation after opening, or the returning operation, the user may further open the main door 40. The user may open the main door 40 under the necessity, and then may also close the main door 40 under the necessity. At this point, when the main door 40 is rotated at a high speed, the push rod 77 may collide with the main door 40 before the push rod 77 is returned to the initial position. When the push rod 77 and the main door 40 collide with each other at a high speed, the push rod 77 or the door opening device 70 may be damaged.

[0394] Therefore, when the reed switch 4011 is switched off during the opening operation, or the stopping operation after opening, or the returning operation, it is determined that the main door 40 is further opened by the user, and the emergency returning operation in which the push rod 77 is rapidly returned is performed.

[0395] As illustrated in the drawings, when the emergency returning operation is started, first it is determined whether the driving motor 73 is in the normal rotation state [S610]. When the driving motor 73 is in the normal rotation state, the driving motor 73 in the normal rotation state is stopped suddenly (e.g., for 10 msec) [S620]. After the driving motor 73 is stopped, the driving motor 73 is reversely rotated to return the push rod 77 [S630]. Meanwhile, when the driving motor 73 is not in the normal rotation state, the driving motor 73 is reversely rotated.

[0396] At the same time when the reverse rotation is started, the driving motor 73 is driven with a duty of 220 which is greater than that in the returning operation. The rotating speed of the driving motor 73 is maintained just before the main door 40 is closed, and thus the main door 40 is rapidly closed. At a section, in which the FG is 25, just before the main door 40 is closed, the duty of the driving motor 73 is reduced to 100, and thus the shock at a moment when the main door 40 is closed may be reduced.

[0397] The push rod 77 is moved by the reverse rotation of the driving motor 73, and the second hall sensor 742 is turned off, and the driving motor 73 is reversely rotated until the first hall sensor 741 is turned on [S640]. And when the first hall sensor 741 is turned on, and it is confirmed that the push rod 77 is returned to the initial position, the driving motor 73 is stopped, and enters the standby operation state [S650].

[0398] Meanwhile, in the case in which the first hall sensor 741 is not in the ON state even when the driving motor 73 is reversely rotated for a preset time (e.g., 5 seconds) or more [S660], the door opening device 70 is abnormal, and thus the error signal is output. And the error code is displayed through the display unit 60, and it is returned to the standby operation [S670].

[0399] Meanwhile, the refrigerator according to the present disclosure may possible in various other implementations in addition to the above described implementations. Hereinafter, describing the other implementations of the present disclosure.

[0400] FIG. 44 is a perspective view of a refrigerator according to a first implementation, FIG. 45 is a perspective view illustrating a state of a door opening device equipped in a first refrigerating compartment door according to the first implementation, FIG. 46 is a view illustrating the door opening device according to the first implementation, and FIG. 47 is a plan view illustrating a state of the door opening device installed on the first refrigerating compartment door according to the first implementation.

[0401] With reference to FIGS. 44 to 47, a refrigerator 1 according to the first implementation may include a cabinet 10 provided with a storage space therein, and a door 20 coupled to a front surface of the cabinet 10 in a rotatable or a slidable manner to selectively open and close the storage space.

[0402] In particular, the storage space may include one or more compartments of a refrigerating compartment 12 and a freezer compartment 13.

[0403] The refrigerating compartment 12 may be opened and closed by a refrigerating compartment door 20, and the freezer compartment 13 may be selectively opened and closed by a freezer compartment door 30.

[0404] Also, when the refrigerating compartment door 20 for opening and closing the refrigerating compartment 12 is a rotary-type door, the refrigerating compartment door 20 may be a pair of French-style doors 201 and 202 which are rotatably connected to a front left edge and a front right edge of the cabinet 10. That is, the pair of French-style doors 201 and 202 may include a first refrigerating compartment door 201 and the second refrigerating compartment door 202.

[0405] When the freezer compartment door 30 for opening and closing the freezer compartment 13 is a rotary-type door, the freezer compartment door 30 may be a pair of French-style doors 301 and 302 which are rotatably connected to the front left edge and the front right edge of the cabinet 10.

[0406] Furthermore, if the freezer compartment door 30 is a drawer-type door for opening and closing the freezer compartment 13 in a sliding manner, a plurality of freezer compartment doors may be arranged in upward and downward directions or in left and right directions.

[0407] The refrigerator 1 may further include a door opening device 25 which operates to open the refrigerating compartment door 20.

[0408] Hereinafter, the door opening device 25 automatically opening the first refrigerating compartment door 201 of the refrigerating compartment door 20 will be described with an example.

[0409] The door opening device 25 may be placed in a door required to be opened.

[0410] For opening each of a plurality of refrigerating compartment doors, a door opening device may be equipped to each of the plurality refrigerating compartment doors. Or, if one refrigerating compartment door includes a plurality of doors, a door opening device may be equipped to one or all of the plurality of doors. Also, for opening the freezer compartment door 30, the door opening device 25 can be equipped in the freezer compartment door 30.

[0411] In the present implementation, though a bottom freezer type refrigerator is disclosed, the spirit of the present disclosure for opening a door may be applied to various refrigerators including a top mount type refrigerator, a side by side type refrigerator, a refrigerator having a single storage space and single door, etc. without being limited to the type.

[0412] The first refrigerating compartment door 201 may be connected to the cabinet 10 by a hinge 401. The first refrigerating compartment door 201 may be rotated by a hinge shaft 4010 which provides a center of rotation. The hinge shaft 4010 may be equipped in the first refrigerating compartment door 201 and/or the hinge 401.

[0413] The door opening device 25 may be placed in an upper side portion of the first refrigerating compartment door 201. A frame 141 forming a space for accommodating the door opening device 25 may be equipped in the upper side portion of the first refrigerating compartment door 201. The frame 141 may partition a space in which an insulator is accommodated and a space in which the door opening device 25 is accommodated, in the first refrigerating compartment door 201.

[0414] As another example, the door opening device 25 may be placed in a lower side portion of the first refrigerating compartment door 201.

[0415] The door opening device 25 may include a housing 250 accommodated in the frame 141, a motor 261 installed in the housing 250 and generating a driving force, a push rod 27 which operates by receiving the driving force of the motor 261, and an electric power transferring device for transferring the driving force of the motor 261 to the push rod 27.

[0416] Although it is not limited, the housing 250 may include a first housing 251 and a second housing 252 coupled to the first housing 251.

[0417] A coupling unit 253 coupled with a buffer unit 254 which may absorb shock or vibration may be equipped in the first housing 251. The buffer unit 254 may define a hole 255 and the frame 141 may have an installation unit 142 which may be inserted into the hole 255 of the buffer unit 254.

[0418] As the door opening device 25 is coupled to the frame 141 by the buffer unit 254, a vibration generated during the operation of the motor 261 and a vibration generated during the operation of the electric power transferring device are absorbed and a noise may be reduced, and the vibrations of the motor and electric power transferring device may be prevented from being transferred to the first refrigerating compartment door 201.

[0419] The electric power transferring device may include one or more gears 262, 263, 264, 265, and 266.

[0420] In the present disclosure, as long as the electric power transferring device transfers the electric power of the motor 261 to the push rod 27, the number of the gears has no limit, and as an example, FIG. 47 shows an electric power transferring device including a plurality of gears.

[0421] By one directional rotation of the motor 261, the plurality of gears 262, 263, 264, 265 and 266 are rotated in a forward direction, and accordingly, the push rod 27 may move in the direction withdrawn from the first refrigerating compartment door 201 for opening a door.

[0422] On the other hand, by the other directional rotation of the motor 261, the plurality of gears 262, 263, 264, 265 and 266 are rotated in a reverse direction, and the push rod 27 may be inserted into the first refrigerating compartment door 201.

[0423] At this time, each of the plurality of gears 262, 263, 264, 265 and 266 may be a spur gear so that each of the plurality of gears 262, 263, 264, 265 and 266 can be rotated in the reverse direction by an external force applied to the push rod 27 after the opening process of the door or completion of door opening and before the push rod 27 returns to an initial position.

[0424] Therefore, even when the external force acts on the push rod 27, the plurality of gears 262, 263, 264, 265 and 266 may be rotated in the reverse direction and has an advantage to prevent the damage of the plurality of gears 262, 263, 264, 265 and 266 and the push rod 27.

[0425] Alternatively, some or all of the plurality of gears may be a multi-stage spur gear having two gear bodies with different diameters.

[0426] FIG. 48 is a view illustrating a push rod constituting the door opening device, FIG. 49 is a view illustrating a state of the push rod of FIG. 48 protruding from a frame of the first refrigerating compartment door, and FIG. 50 is a view illustrating an opening process of a refrigerator door according to the first implementation.

[0427] With reference to FIGS. 46 to 50, since the push rod 27 is placed in the first refrigerating compartment door 201, the length of the push rod 27 is limited.

[0428] In the present disclosure, the push rod 27 may include a curve-shaped rack gear 272 so that the first refrigerating compartment door 201 can be opened using the push rod 27 arranged in the first refrigerating compartment door 201. At this time, the rack gear 272 may be engaged with a last gear of the plurality of gears 262, 263, 264, 265 and 266.

[0429] As the rack gear 272 is formed in a curved shape, the length of the push rod 27 may be reduced when opening the first refrigerating compartment door 201 as much as a required angle. Therefore, even if the push rod 27 is arranged on the first refrigerating compartment door 201, the first refrigerating compartment door 201 can be opened by the push rod 27.

[0430] As the rack gear 272 is formed in a curved shape, when the last gear of the plurality of gears 262, 263, 264, 265 and 266 is rotated, the push rod 27 may be rotated relative to the last gear.

[0431] That is, when the motor 261 operates, the push rod 27 not only may rotate about the hinge shaft 4010 with the first refrigerating compartment door 201 but also rotate about the plurality of gears 262, 263, 264, 265 and 266 and consequently, may do a relatively curved motion about the first refrigerating compartment door 201.

[0432] The rack gear 272 may be formed in an arc shape. In this case, the rack gear 272 may be arranged to be convex in a direction away from the hinge shaft 4010.

[0433] When the push rod 27 do the relatively curved motion about the first refrigerating compartment door 201, a center of the curve-shaped rack gear 272 may match the hinge shaft 4010 for maintaining the push rod 27 to be in contact with the cabinet 10.

[0434] For the push rod 27 to move stably, one or more guide ribs 257 are equipped in any one of the housing 250 and the push rod 27, and one or more guide grooves 273 and 274 which receive the one or more guide ribs 257 may be equipped in the other one thereof.

[0435] In this case, the one or more ribs 257 and the one or more guide grooves 273 and 274 may be formed into a curved shape. Or the one or more ribs 257 may be formed in a circular or rectangular shape and the one or more guide grooves 273 and 274 may be formed in a curved shape.

[0436] As an example, FIG. 46 shows that the one or more guide ribs 257 are equipped in the housing 250 and the one or more guide grooves 273 and 274 are equipped in the push rod 27.

[0437] Although not limited, each of the guide grooves 273 and 274 may be equipped in a first surface (upper surface based on the drawing) of the push rod 27 and a second surface (lower surface based on the drawing) which faces the first surface, and the guide projection 257 may be equipped in each of the first housing 251 and the second housing 252.

[0438] The guide grooves 273 and 274 may be formed in arc shape. At this time, the guide grooves 273 and 274 may be arranged to be convex in a direction away from the hinge shaft 4010. And the center of the arc of the guide grooves 273 and 274 may be the hinge shaft 4010.

[0439] Meanwhile, the push rod 27 may be placed adjacent to the hinge shaft 4010. When the push rod 27 is placed more adjacent to the hinge shaft 4010, the door opening device 25 is simplified and compact, and the length of the push rod may be reduced.

[0440] The hinge shaft 4010 may be placed on an upper surface of the first refrigerating compartment door 201. The first refrigerating compartment door 201 may include a first side 201a and a second side 201b facing the first side 201a, and the hinge shaft 4010 may be placed adjacent to the first side 201a.

[0441] That is, based on an imaginary line L, which divides a space between the first side 201a and the second side 201b in half, the hinge shaft 4010 may be placed in an area corresponding to an area between the imaginary line L and the first side 201a.

[0442] And the push rod 27 may be placed between the motor 261 and the hinge shaft 4010. In addition, the push rod 27 may be placed in the area corresponding to an area between the imaginary line L and the first side 201a. At this time, the push rod 27 may be placed between the imaginary line L and the hinge shaft 4010.

[0443] Therefore, according to the present disclosure, as the push rod 27 is placed adjacent to the hinge shaft 4010, an opening angle of the first refrigerating compartment door 201 may be increased by using a short length push rod 27.

[0444] The door opening device 25 may further include a position sensing unit for detecting a position of the push rod 27. The position sensing unit may include a first position sensor 281 and a second position sensor 282.

[0445] As an example, the first position sensor 281 and the second position sensor 282 may be arranged in the housing 250.

[0446] And a magnet 275 may be equipped in the push rod 27. The first position sensor 281 and the second position sensor 282 may be a magnetic sensor for detecting the magnetism of the magnet 275.

[0447] In the present disclosure, a position of the push rod 27 when the first position sensor 281 detects the magnet 275 or a position of the push rod 27 when the first position sensor 281 faces the magnet 275 may be an initial position.

[0448] A position of the push rod 27 when the second position sensor 282 detects the magnet 275 or a position of the push rod 27 when the second position sensor 282 faces the magnet 275 may be a last position.

[0449] A control unit may control the motor 261 based on the information sensed at each position sensors 281 and 282.

[0450] In the present implementation, while the push rod 27 moves to the last position from the initial position, the first refrigerating compartment door 201 may be opened.

[0451] In the present disclosure, opening a "door" means that a storage space which is opened and closed by the door is in communication with an outside of the refrigerator.

[0452] As another example, the first position sensor 281 and the second position sensor 282 may be a light sensor. A groove or a projection unit may be equipped in the push rod 27 and each of the position sensors 281 and 282 may detect a groove or a projection unit.

[0453] The push rod 27 may further include a contact end unit 277 which may contact a front surface (can be the front surface of a hinge assembly) of the cabinet 10. The contact end unit 277 may be formed of a rubber material for preventing the damage to the front surface of the cabinet 10 by the contact with the push rod 27.

[0454] Meanwhile, an opening 143 which the push rod 27 penetrates, may be equipped in the frame 141 installed on the first refrigerating compartment door 201.

[0455] In the present implementation, since the push rod 27 do the relatively curved motion about the first refrigerating compartment door 201, in order to prevent the push rod 27 from interfering with the frame 141, an area of the opening 143 may be larger than a vertical cross sectional area of the push rod 27.

[0456] Hereinafter, an opening process of the door of the refrigerator will be described.

[0457] While the first refrigerating compartment door 201 closes the refrigerating compartment 12, the push rod 27 may be placed on the initial position. The first position sensor 281 detects the magnet 275 of the push rod 27 in the initial position.

[0458] While the push rod is placed in the initial position, the contact end unit 277 of the push rod 27 may be in contact with the front surface of the cabinet 10 or may be spaced apart from the front surface of the cabinet 10.

[0459] When a door opening signal is determined to be inputted, the control unit controls the motor 261 to be rotated in one direction.

[0460] When the motor 261 is rotated in one direction, the plurality of gears 262, 263, 264, 265 and 266 are rotated in the forward direction, and the push rod 27 may do a curved motion about the first refrigerating compartment door 201.

[0461] At this time, if the contact end unit 277 of the push rod 27 is spaced apart from the front surface of the cabinet 10 while the push rod 27 is placed in the initial position, the push rod 27 may be rotated in a direction (counter-clockwise in the figure) in which the first refrigerating compartment door 201 is opened if the push rod 27 is in contact with the front surface of the cabinet 10 after the push rod 27 moves toward the front surface of a cabinet 10 while the first refrigerating compartment door 201 is stopped.

[0462] On the other hand, if the contact end unit 277 of the push rod 27 is in contact with the front surface of the cabinet 10 while the push rod 27 is placed in the initial position, the push rod 27 may be rotated directly in a direction in which the first refrigerating compartment door 201 is opened, by the curved movement of the push rod 27.

[0463] While the motor 261 is rotated in one direction, the control unit may determine whether the push rod 27 reaches the last position.

[0464] That is, if the motor 261 is rotated in one direction while the push rod 27 is placed in the initial position, the push rod 27 do a curved motion and in this process, the magnet 275 of the push rod 27 is undetected in the first position sensor 281. And if the magnet 275 of the push rod 27 is detected in the second position sensor 282 during the curved motion process of the push rod 27, the control unit may determine that the push rod 27 reaches the last position.

[0465] When the push rod 27 is determined to reach the last position, the control unit may stop the motor 261.

[0466] Specifically, as shown in FIG 50 (a), while the push rod 27 is placed in the initial position, if the motor 261 is rotated in one direction, the push rod 27 attempts to move toward the front surface of the cabinet 10 while doing a curved motion.

[0467] When the push rod 27 contacts the front surface of the cabinet 10, the push rod 27 pushes the front surface of the cabinet 10 and a rotation force acts on the first refrigerating compartment door 201 by a reaction by force of the push rod 27 pushing the front surface of the cabinet 10, and the first refrigerating compartment door 201 may be rotated in the counter-clockwise direction on the drawing about the hinge shaft 4010 as the center. Accordingly, the first refrigerating compartment door 201 may be automatically opened.

[0468] At this time, as a moving distance of the push rod 27 is increased, like (b) and (c) of FIG. 50, a rotation angle of the first refrigerating compartment door 201 is increased.

[0469] In the present implementation, the moving distance of the push rod 27 means a protrusion length of the push rod 27 when the push rod 27 actually protrudes from the first refrigerating compartment door 201.

[0470] Also, like (d) of FIG. 50, when the push rod 27 reaches the last position, the motor 261 may be stopped.

[0471] At this time, in the present implementation, the rack gear 272 of the push rod 27 is formed in a curved shape, and as a center of the curve becomes a hinge shaft, while maintaining a state in which the contact end unit 277 of the push rod 27 is in contact with a portion of the front surface of the cabinet 10, the protrusion length of the push rod 27 is increased and the rotation angle of the first refrigerating compartment door 201 is increased by a rotation of the first refrigerating compartment door 201.

[0472] As the first refrigerating compartment door 201 is opened while the push rod 27 maintains to be in contact with a portion of the front surface of the cabinet 10, damage or noise of the cabinet 10 by the slip of the push rod 27 may be prevented.

[0473] If the push rod 27 has a linearly shaped rack gear, when the first refrigerating compartment door 201 is opened, it may be easily assumed that a slip phenomenon in which the contact end unit of the push rod 27 moves to a left on the drawing from a point of the front surface of the cabinet 10 may occur.

[0474] As the rack gear 272 of the push rod 27 is formed in a curved shape, while the push rod 27 reaches the last position, an imaginary line which connects a point engaged with the last gear of the plurality of gears 262, 263, 264, 265 and 266 at the rack gear 272 to the contact end unit 277 of the push rod 27, may be perpendicular to the front surface of the cabinet 10.

[0475] In this situation, even if the external force acts on the first refrigerating compartment door 201 in the direction in which the first refrigerating compartment door 201 is closed, the push rod 27 may move toward the initial position by a reverse directional rotation of the plurality of gears 262, 263, 264, 265 and 266, and in this process, since a moment does not act on the push rod 27, the push rod 27 and the plurality of gears 262, 263, 264, 265 and 266 may be prevented from being damaged.

[0476] If, when the push rod 27 has a linearly shaped rack gear, while the push rod 27 reaches the last position, an imaginary line which connects a point engaged with the last gear of the plurality of gears at the rack gear 272 to the contact end unit 277 of the push rod 27, may be inclined to an angle less than 90 degrees with the front surface of the cabinet 10. In this case, if the external force acts on the first refrigerating compartment door 201 in the direction in which the first refrigerating compartment door 201 is closed, since the moment acts on the push rod 27, the push rod 27 and the plurality of gears 262, 263, 264, 265 and 266 are likely to be damaged.

[0477] Also, as the rack gear 272 of the push rod 27 is formed in a curved shape, an opening angle of the door may be increased compared with when the rack gear 272 of the push rod 27 is formed in a linear shape.

[0478] Also, when trying to open the door by a fixed angle, a length of the push rod when the push rod has a curve-shaped rack gear may be shorter than a length of the push rod when the push rod has a linear-shaped rack gear. Accordingly, a door opening device may be compact and when the door opening device is compact, even if a thickness of the door is decreased, there is an advantage to install a door opening device for automatic opening of a door.

[0479] On the other hand, as shown in (d) of FIG. 50, while the push rod 27 reaches the last position, at least a portion of a rear surface 201c of the first refrigerating compartment door 201 may be placed forward than a front surface 202a of the second refrigerating compartment door 202, and accordingly, a gap G of a certain distance may be formed between a one end unit of the rear surface 201c of the first refrigerating compartment door 201 and a one end unit of the front surface 202a of the second refrigerating compartment door 202.

[0480] When the user's hands are not available, the gap G may be set enough to allow the user's elbow or foot to be inserted.

[0481] Accordingly, while the first refrigerating compartment door 201 is rotated by a certain angle, by inserting the elbow or foot in the gap G, the opening angle of the first refrigerating compartment door 201 may be manually increased.

[0482] On the other hand, while the push rod 27 reaches the last position, the control unit may determine whether a time when the push rod 27 reaches the last position passes a certain amount of time or not.

[0483] If the time when the push rod 27 reaches the last position passes the certain amount of time, the control unit may control the motor to be rotated in the other direction for the push rod 27 to return to the initial position.

[0484] While the motor 261 is rotated in the other direction, the control unit may determine whether the push rod 27 reaches the initial position or not.

[0485] When the push rod 27 is determined to reach the initial position, the control unit may stop the motor 261.

[0486] FIG. 51 is a view illustrating a push rod according to a second implementation, FIG. 52 is a view illustrating a state of the push rod of FIG. 51 placed in an initial position, FIG. 53 is a view illustrating a state of the push rod of FIG. 51 protruding from a frame of a first refrigerating compartment door, and FIG. 54 is a view illustrating an opening process of a refrigerator door according to the second implementation.

[0487] While the present implementation is the same as the first implementation, there is a difference in the form of a push rod. Therefore, hereinafter, only characteristic parts of the present implementation will be described.

[0488] With reference to FIGS. 51 to 54, a push rod 47 of the present implementation may include a body unit 470 in which a curve-shaped rack gear 472 is equipped and an extension unit 471 provided on one side of the body unit 470.

[0489] The push rod 47 may pass through the opening 143 in a Y-axis direction or inclined direction to an X-axis from the Y-axis.

[0490] The extension unit 471 may include a contact end unit 477 for contacting the front surface of the cabinet (Referring 11 of FIG. 44).

[0491] A maximum width W2 of the extension unit 471 in a first direction (X-axis direction in FIG. 51) which is intersected with a direction in which the push rod 47 passes through the opening 143 may be equal to or smaller than a width W1 of the opening 143 in the first direction. Accordingly, a foreign substance may be minimally introduced into the opening 143 by the extension unit 471.

[0492] Or, when the contact end unit 477 is provided in the extension unit 471, a maximum width of the contact end unit 477 in the first direction may be the same as the width W1 of the opening 143 in the first direction.

[0493] Therefore, as shown in FIG. 52, when seeing the contact end unit 477, only the contact end unit 477 or only the extension unit 471 and the contact end unit 477 may be shown from the opening 143.

[0494] In FIG. 52, the push rod 47 is placed in the initial position and in this state, since an inner space of the frame 141 is not shown by the extension unit 471, an esthetic sense is improved, and a foreign substance may be minimally introduced through the opening 143.

[0495] The maximum width W2 of the extension unit 471 in the first direction may be equal to or greater than a width W3 of the body unit 470 in the first direction.

[0496] When the maximum width W2 of the extension unit 471 in the first direction is greater than the width W3 of the body unit 470 in the first direction, a width of a connected portion with the body unit 470 in the extension unit 471 in the first direction may be formed smaller than a width of the contact end unit 477 in the first direction in the extension unit 471. This is for preventing an interference between the push rod 47 and the frame 141 while the push rod 47 does a curved motion about the first refrigerating compartment door 201.

[0497] At this time, the farther away from the contact end unit 477, in other words, the closer to the side of the body unit 470, a width of at least a portion of the extension unit 471 in the first direction may become smaller.

[0498] If the width W2 of the extension unit 471 in the first direction is the same as the width W3 of the body unit 470 in the first direction, a groove for preventing an interference with the frame 141 may be formed in the extension unit 471 during the movement process of the push rod 47.

[0499] A contact area of the contact end unit 477 of the push rod 47 and the cabinet 10 according to the present implementation may be larger than a contact area of the contact end unit 277 of the push rod 27 and the cabinet 10 of the first implementation.

[0500] Therefore, according to the present implementation, even if an external force acts on the first refrigerating compartment door 201 before the push rod 47 returns to the initial position in a state of reaching the last position, a damage of a contacted point with the contact end unit 477 of the push rod 47 may be minimized in the cabinet 10.

[0501] Although the above implementations described that the door opening device is equipped in the refrigerator door, in contrast, it is also possible that the door opening device is equipped in the cabinet. Also in this case, the push rod may include a push rod which has the curve-shaped rack gear described above, and the push rod may be placed adjacent to the hinge shaft. Also the buffer unit of the door opening device may be coupled to the installation unit equipped in the cabinet.

[0502] In the control method of the refrigerator 1 according to the proposed implementation, the following effects may be expected.

[0503] In the refrigerator according to the implementation of the present disclosure, even when the user is holding the object in both hands, the door opening device is driven through detection of the sensing assembly provided at the door, and the door is automatically opened, and thus user convenience can be enhanced.

[0504] And the door opening device enables the door to be opened, such that at least a user's body, e.g., the elbow is put therein, and opens the door, and thus the user can put a part of his/her body in the open gap, and can easily further open the door. Therefore, since the user can completely open the door without use of both hands, the user convenience can be further enhanced.

[0505] In particular, when one pair of doors are disposed in parallel, a distance between the rear surface of the automatically opened door and the front surface of the closed door can be sufficiently provided, and thus the additional opening can be easily performed.

[0506] Although a few implementations of the present disclosure have been shown and described, it would be appreciated by those skilled in the art that changes may be made in these implementations without departing from the principles and spirit of the disclosure, the scope of which is defined in the claims and their equivalents.

[0507] Meanwhile, the above-described embodiments are limited to refrigerators for convenience of description and understanding, but the present disclosure can be applied to all electric appliances having openable/closable doors, including the refrigerators.

[0508] The present invention also encompasses other devices or appliances than a refrigerator. For example, the invention encompasses a laundry treatment apparatus, such as washing machine, dryer, oder wash-dryer.

[0509] The laundry treating apparatus may include a body and a door. The body forms appearance of the laundry treating apparatus, and is provided with a laundry introduction opening into which laundry is introduced. The laundry introduction opening may be formed on a front surface of the body. A laundry accommodation unit, configured to accommodate laundry therein through the laundry introduction opening, is provided in the body. For instance, if the laundry treating apparatus according to the present invention serves to dry laundry, the laundry accommodation unit may be configured as a drum rotatably provided in the body. As another example, if the laundry treating apparatus according to the present invention serves to wash and dry laundry, the laundry accommodation unit may be configured as a tub provided in the body and configured to store washing water therein, and a drum rotatably provided in the tub and configured to accommodate laundry therein. The door is installed by a hinge unit (or a hinge module) so as to be rotatable with respect to the body. The door is configured to open and close the laundry introduction opening. The body may be provided with a door accommodation unit inward-recessed from an outer surface of the body and having the laundry introduction opening therein. The door may be accommodated in the door accommodation unit in a closed state, and may be separated from the door accommodation unit in an open state. With such a configuration, the door is configured to open the laundry introduction opening in an open state, and to block the laundry introduction opening in a closed state.

[0510] In this embodiment, the laundry treatment apparatus comprises a a door opening device provided inside an opening device accommodation part at the door and having a driving motor, wherein the door opening device comprises a plurality of gears, and a push rod which is moveable by the plurality of gears against the cabinet to open the door, a controller configured to control the door opening device, wherein the controller activates the door opening device to open the compartment door in response to a door opening signal.

[0511] A refrigerator comprises a cabinet defining a storage space; a door configured to open and close the storage space by rotating about a vertical hinge axis; a hinge configured to couple the door to the cabinet and defining the vertical hinge axis; and a door opening device provided at the door and configured open the door.

[0512] The door opening device includes: a case, a driving motor, a push rod provided in the case and configured to be pushed out of the case based on being actuated by the driving motor to thereby open the door, the push rod being positioned between the driving motor and the hinge and having a curved rack that is convex relative to the hinge axis, and a plurality of reduction gears mounted in the case and configured to transmit a driving force of the driving motor to the push rod, the plurality of reduction gears being a sequence of gears that includes at least a first reduction gear and a last reduction gear, the last reduction gear being farther removed from the driving motor than the first reduction gear, wherein a first distance in a front-to-rear direction between a rear surface of the door and a point of contact at which the driving force is transmitted to the curved rack is less than respective distances in the front-to-rear direction between the rear surface and a center of rotation of any of the plurality of reduction gears.

[0513] The center of curvature of the curved rack lies on the hinge axis.

[0514] An opening device accommodation part is defined by the door, the opening device accommodation part being recessed downward from a top surface of the door and being configured to accommodate the opening device.

[0515] The rear surface of the door defines a rod hole that is configured to allow the push rod to pass through to thereby make contact with the front surface of the cabinet when actuated to open the door.

[0516] The push rod is configured, based on being pushed out of the case to open the door, to be withdrawn out of the case such that at least half of the curved rack is withdrawn out of the case.

[0517] The push rod is configured, based on being pushed out of the case to open the door, to be withdrawn out through the rod hole such that at least half of the curved rack is withdrawn out of the rod hole.

[0518] The push rod is configured, based on being actuated to open the door, to be withdrawn such that the door is rotated open to about 24° to 26°.

[0519] A length of the curved rack is greater than a width of the case in the front-to-rear direction.

[0520] The length of the curved rack is greater than a thickness of the door in which the opening device is accommodated.

[0521] The door opening device further includes a dummy gear that couples the last reduction gear to the curved rack of the push rod, the point of contact at which the driving force is transmitted to the curved rack coinciding with a point of contact between the dummy gear and the curved rack.

[0522] The curved rack extends from a proximal portion of the rod that makes contact with the dummy gear when the rod is fully retracted within the case to a distal most end of the rod.

[0523] A first diameter of the dummy gear that makes contact with the curved rack is less than respective diameters of any of the plurality of reduction gears.

[0524] The dummy gear includes a plurality of dummy gears, the dummy gear that makes contact with the curved rack being positioned closer to the rear surface of the door compared to other of the plurality of dummy gears.

[0525] The point of contact between the dummy gear and the curved rack is positioned closer to the hinge axis compared to any portion of the plurality of reduction gears.

[0526] The point of contact between the dummy gear and the curved rack is positioned closer to the rear surface of the door in which the opening device is accommodated compared to any portion of the plurality of reduction gears.

[0527] A length of the portion of the curved rack that makes contact with the dummy gear during operation is greater than a circumference of the dummy gear that makes contact with the curved rack.

[0528] The driving motor is positioned within the case.

[0529] An axis of the driving motor is parallel to the hinge axis.

[0530] The door is configured to rotatably open to a preset manual range upon opening by a user and to rotatably open to a preset automatic range that is less than the preset manual range upon opening by the opening device.

[0531] The preset automatic range is approximately 25?.

[0532] The preset manual range is approximately 180° or greater.

[0533] A refrigerator comprises: a cabinet configured to form a storage space; a door configured to open and close the storage space; a sensing assembly provided at one side of the door, and configured to sense a user's operation; and a door opening device provided at the door, driven when the sensing assembly is operated, and configured to open the door, wherein the door opening device includes; a case; a driving motor mounted in the case; a push rod moved by power of the driving motor and in which a rack is formed on one side; a plurality of reduction gears connected to the driving motor and transmitting the power; and a dummy gear connecting between the plurality of reduction gears and a rack of the push rod and further moving a gear attachment point with the push rod toward the cabinet.

[0534] A plurality of the dummy gears are provided and a diameter of a dummy gear which is in contact with the push rod is smallest.

[0535] An opening device accommodation part which is recessed inwardly and accommodating the door opening device is formed at an upper end of the door, and the opening device accommodation part is shielded by an accommodation part cover.

[0536] A rod hole opened toward the cabinet and through which the push rod is inserted and withdrawn is formed in the opening device accommodation part.

[0537] A rod cap formed larger than a size of the rod hole and selectively shielding the rod hole is formed at a front end of the push rod.

[0538] The rod cap is formed of an elastically deformable material.

[0539] The push rod is formed to have a curvature in accordance with a turning radius of the door.

[0540] The push rod is inserted into and withdrawn from a point which is closer to an end in which a rotating shaft of the door is formed than other end of the door.

[0541] A guide groove recessed along an extension direction of the push rod is formed in the push rod, and a guide projection which protrudes to be inserted into the guide groove and is formed to have a curvature corresponding to the push rod and guiding movement of the push rod is formed in the case.

[0542] A magnet installation part in which a magnet is installed is formed at an end of the push rod, a motor PCB is provided in one side of the case corresponding to a mounting position of the push rod, a first hall sensor located at a position corresponding to an initial position in which the push rod is inserted and a second hall sensor located at a position corresponding to a position in which the push rod is withdrawn in maximum are provided in the PCB, and the motor PCP can control the driving motor in accordance with the position of the push rod.

[0543] The driving motor is a BLDC motor which is able to adjust a speed by FG counting.

[0544] The refrigerator may further comprise: a switch magnet provided at one side of the door and rotated with the door; and a reed switch provided at one side of a hinge which is rotatably supporting the door and selectively turned on and off by the switch magnet in accordance with the opening and closing of the door.

[0545] A refrigerator comprises a cabinet in which a refrigerating compartment is disposed upward and a freezer compartment is disposed downward; a pair of refrigerating compartment door disposed side-by-side to open and close the refrigerating compartment; a pair of freezer compartment door disposed side-by-side to open and close the freezer compartment; a sensing assembly disposed on one side of the freezer compartment door and detecting a user's operation; and a door opening device provided on the refrigerating compartment door and driven when detecting the operation by the sensing assembly, and opening the door, wherein the door opening device includes: a case; a driving motor mounted in the case; a push rod moved by power of the driving motor and in which a rack is formed on one side; a plurality of reduction gears connected to the driving motor and transmitting the power; and a dummy gear connecting between the plurality of reduction gears and a rack of the push rod and further moving a gear attachment point with the push rod toward the cabinet.

[0546] The sensing assembly is provided in one side of the freezer compartment door of both right and left sides of the freezer compartment door, and the door opening device is provided in the refrigerating compartment which is located above the freezer compartment door in which the sensing assembly is provided.

[0547] The push rod is formed to be round so that an end which is in contact with the cabinet faces a side surface of the cabinet.

[0548] The push rod is formed to extend to be located forward than a front surface of the refrigerating compartment door in which a rear surface of the refrigerating compartment door which is opened by the push rod is closed.

[0549] The push rod is formed to extend so that a gap between the front surface of the closed refrigerating compartment door and the rear surface of the opened refrigerating compartment door is 70 mm to 90 mm.

[0550] The push rod is formed to extend so that the closed refrigerating compartment door can be rotated about 24° to 26?.

[0551] A refrigerator comprises: a cabinet configured to form a storage space; a refrigerator door configured to open and close the storage space; a door opening device configured to open and close the refrigerator door; and a control unit controlling an operation of the door opening device, wherein the door opening device includes; a motor configured to generate a driving force; a push rod operating by receiving the driving force generated from the motor; and a gear configured to transfer electric power of the motor to the push rod.

[0552] The push rod may include a rack gear which is engageable with a gear and having a curved shape.

[0553] The rack gear is formed in an arc shape.

[0554] The arc-shaped rack gear is placed to be convex in a direction away from a hinge shaft of the refrigerator door.

[0555] A center of the arc-shaped rack gear is the hinge shaft.

[0556] The door opening device may further include a housing in which the push rod is installed, a guide rib is formed in any one of the housing and the push rod, and a guide groove accommodating the guide rib is formed in the other one thereof.

[0557] A center of an arc of the guide groove is the hinge shaft.

[0558] The refrigerator door may include a first side and a second side opposite to the first side, and a hinge shaft of the refrigerator door and the push rod are placed in an area corresponding to an area between an imaginary line which divides a space between the first side and the second side equally and the first side.

[0559] The push rod is placed in the area between the imaginary line and the hinge shaft.

[0560] The door opening device is equipped in the refrigerator door.

[0561] The refrigerator door may include a frame accommodating the door opening device, and the frame includes an opening which the push rod penetrates.

[0562] The push rod may include a body unit in which the rack gear is equipped and an extension unit which is placed on a side of the body unit, and a maximum width of the extension unit in a first direction which is a crossed with a direction in which the push rod passes through the opening corresponds to a width of the opening in the first direction.

[0563] The push rod may include a body unit in which the rack gear is equipped and an extension unit which is placed on a side of the body unit, and a width of the body unit in a first direction which is crossed with a direction in which the push rod passes through the opening is smaller than a width of the extension unit in the first direction.

[0564] The push rod may include a body unit in which the rack gear is equipped and an extension unit which is placed on a side of the body unit, and for preventing interference of the frame and the push rod while moving the push rod, a width of the extension unit in a first direction which is crossed with a direction in which the push rod passes through the opening becomes smaller toward the body unit.

[0565] The door opening device may include a housing which supports the motor, and a coupling unit which is coupled with a buffer unit which may absorb shock or vibration is equipped in the housing, and the buffer unit is coupled with an installation unit which is equipped in the refrigerator door or cabinet.

[0566] The door opening device may include a plurality of gears and each of the plurality of gears is a spur gear.

[0567] The refrigerator may further comprise an extra refrigerator door which is placed on one side of the refrigerator door and opening and closing the storage space, and a position sensing unit for detecting a position of the push rod.

[0568] Since the position sensing unit detects a position, the push rod moves between an initial position which is a position when the refrigerator door is closed, and a last position which is a position when the refrigerator door is opened, and while the push rod is placed in the last position, at least a portion of a rear surface of the refrigerator door is placed forward than a front surface of the extra refrigerator door.

[0569] For opening the refrigerator door, the push rod moves to a last position from an initial position, and while moving to the last position from the initial position, the push rod maintains a state in contact with a portion of the cabinet.

Industrial Applicability



[0570] According to embodiments, use convenience is improved, thereby achieving high industrial applicability.

[0571] The following items describe further aspects of the present invention:
[Item 1]
A refrigerator comprising: a cabinet equipped with a compartment; a compartment door connected to the cabinet, and configured to open and close the compartment; a door opening device provided inside an opening device accommodation part at the compartment door and having a driving motor; wherein the door opening device comprises a plurality of gears, and a push rod which is moveable by the plurality of gears against the cabinet to open the door; a controller configured to control the door opening device, wherein the controller activates the door opening device to open the compartment door in response to a door opening signal.
[Item 2]
The refrigerator according to item 1, wherein the compartment is a refrigerating compartment or a freezing compartment, and wherein the compartment door is a refrigerating compartment door or a freezer compartment door.
[Item 3]
The refrigerator according to item 1 or 2, wherein the opening device accommodation part is formed at the upper end of the compartment door, preferably adjacent to the door hinge.
[Item 4]
The refrigerator according to any one of the preceding items, wherein the push rod is horizontally curved, and is preferably curved along a rotating direction of the door.
[Item 5]
The refrigerator according to any of the preceding items, wherein the push rod comprises a rod cap at the end of the push rod facing the cabinet, wherein the rod cap is preferably formed of rubber or an elastic material.
[Item 6]
The refrigerator according to any of the preceding items, wherein the plurality of gears include reduction gears and at least one dummy gear, wherein the reduction gears reduce a rotating speed of the driving motor, and transmit a force for driving the push rod, and wherein the dummy gear serves to prolong a withdrawing distance of the push rod.
[Item 7]
The refrigerator according to item 6, wherein a first dummy gear is disposed at one of the reduction gears, and the first dummy gear and the push rod are connected by a second dummy gear.
[Item 8]
The refrigerator according to any one of the preceding items, wherein a rack is formed at an outer surface of the push rod.
[Item 9]
The refrigerator according to any one of the preceding items, wherein the door opening device comprises a first Hall sensor and a second Hall sensor, wherein the first Hall sensor is provided at a position at which a magnet provided at the push rod is detected when the push rod is completely inserted therein, and wherein the second Hall sensor is provided at a position at which the magnet provided at the push rod is detected when the push rod is completely withdrawn therefrom.
[Item 10]
The refrigerator according to item 9, wherein a magnet installation part which accommodates the magnet is formed at a rear end of the push rod, wherein the magnet installation part is preferably located just above the first Hall sensor in a state in which the push rod is completed inserted, and wherein the magnet installation part is preferably located just above the second Hall sensor in a state in which the push rod is completed withdrawn.
[Item 11]
A method of controlling a refrigerator in which a door opening device is provided at one side of a refrigerator door, and the door opening device comprises a push rod which is inserted into and withdrawn from the refrigerator door by a driving motor, , the method comprising: a standby operation which waits for an input of a door opening signal; an opening operation in which the push rod is withdrawn by normal rotation of the driving motor when the door opening signal is input, and the refrigerator door is opened; a stopping operation after opening in which the push rod is completely withdrawn, and an opened state of the refirgerator door is maintained; and a returning operation in which the push rod is inserted by reverse rotation of the driving motor.
[Item 12]
The method according to item 11, wherein an initial operation is performed before the standby operation, and the initial operation comprises an operation of supplying electric power, an operation of stopping the driving motor when a first Hall sensor is in an ON state, and an operation of reversely rotating the motor until the first Hall sensor is in the ON state, when the first Hall sensor is not in the ON state.
[Item 13]
The method according to item 11 or 12, wherein the opening operation comprises an operation of normally rotating the driving motor, an operation of withdrawing the push rod, and performing the stopping operation after opening when a second Hall sensor is turned on, and an operation of outputting an error signal and performing the returning operation when the second Hall sensor is not turned on until a preset time passes.
[Item 14]
The method according to item 11, wherein, in the stopping operation after opening, the normal rotation of the driving motor is maintained so that the push rod is not pushed and inserted by a weight of the door, and the driving motor is rotated at a speed lower than a rotating speed in the opening operation.
[Item 15]
The method according to item 11, wherein, in the returning operation, the driving motor is reversely rotated until a first Hall sensor is turned on, and then stopped, and the standby operation is performed after the driving motor is stopped.



Claims

1. A refrigerator comprising:

a cabinet (10) equipped with a compartment;

a compartment door (20, 30) connected to the cabinet, and configured to open and close the compartment;

a door opening device (25, 70) provided inside an opening device accommodation part (452) at the compartment door and having a driving motor (73, 261);

wherein the door opening device (25, 70) comprises a plurality of gears (262, 263, 264, 265, 266, 751, 752, 753, 754, 761, 762), and a push rod (27, 77) which is moveable by the plurality of gears against the cabinet to open the door (20, 30);

a controller configured to control the door opening device (25, 70), wherein the controller activates the door opening device (25, 70) to open the compartment door (20, 30) in response to a door opening signal.


 
2. The refrigerator according to claim 1, wherein the compartment is a refrigerating compartment or a freezing compartment, and wherein the compartment door (20, 30) is a refrigerating compartment door or a freezer compartment door.
 
3. The refrigerator according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the opening device accommodation part (452) is formed at the upper end of the compartment door, preferably adjacent to the door hinge.
 
4. The refrigerator according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the push rod (27, 77) is horizontally curved, and is preferably curved along a rotating direction of the door.
 
5. The refrigerator according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the push rod (27, 77) comprises a rod cap (78, 277) at the end of the push rod facing the cabinet, wherein the rod cap (78, 277) is preferably formed of rubber or an elastic material.
 
6. The refrigerator according to any of the preceding claims, wherein the plurality of gears (262, 263, 264, 265, 266, 751, 752, 753, 754, 761, 762) include reduction gears and at least one dummy gear, wherein the reduction gears reduce a rotating speed of the driving motor (73, 261), and transmit a force for driving the push rod (27, 77), and wherein the dummy gear serves to prolong a withdrawing distance of the push rod.
 
7. The refrigerator according to claim 6, wherein a first dummy gear (761) is disposed at one of the reduction gears, and the first dummy gear (761) and the push rod (27, 77) are connected by a second dummy gear (762).
 
8. The refrigerator according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein a rack is formed at an outer surface of the push rod (27, 77).
 
9. The refrigerator according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the door opening device (25, 70) comprises a first Hall sensor (281, 741) and a second Hall sensor (282, 742), wherein the first Hall sensor is provided at a position at which a magnet (275, 455) provided at the push rod is detected when the push rod is completely inserted therein, and wherein the second Hall sensor is provided at a position at which the magnet provided at the push rod is detected when the push rod is completely withdrawn therefrom.
 
10. The refrigerator according to claim 9, wherein a magnet installation part (773) which accommodates the magnet is formed at a rear end of the push rod (27, 77), wherein the magnet installation part (773) is preferably located just above the first Hall sensor in a state in which the push rod is completed inserted, and wherein the magnet installation part is preferably located just above the second Hall sensor in a state in which the push rod is completed withdrawn.
 
11. A method of controlling a refrigerator in which a door opening device is provided at one side of a refrigerator door, and the door opening device comprises a push rod which is inserted into and withdrawn from the refrigerator door by a driving motor, the method comprising:

a standby operation which waits for an input of a door opening signal;

an opening operation in which the push rod is withdrawn by normal rotation of the driving motor when the door opening signal is input, and the refrigerator door is opened;

a stopping operation after opening in which the push rod is completely withdrawn, and an opened state of the refrigerator door is maintained; and

a returning operation in which the push rod is inserted by reverse rotation of the driving motor.


 
12. The method according to claim 11, wherein an initial operation is performed before the standby operation, and the initial operation comprises an operation of supplying electric power, an operation of stopping the driving motor when a first Hall sensor is in an ON state, and an operation of reversely rotating the motor until the first Hall sensor is in the ON state, when the first Hall sensor is not in the ON state.
 
13. The method according to claim 11 or 12, wherein the opening operation comprises an operation of normally rotating the driving motor, an operation of withdrawing the push rod, and performing the stopping operation after opening when a second Hall sensor is turned on, and an operation of outputting an error signal and performing the returning operation when the second Hall sensor is not turned on until a preset time passes.
 
14. The method according to claim 11, wherein, in the stopping operation after opening, the normal rotation of the driving motor is maintained so that the push rod is not pushed and inserted by a weight of the door, and the driving motor is rotated at a speed lower than a rotating speed in the opening operation.
 
15. The method according to claim 11, wherein, in the returning operation, the driving motor is reversely rotated until a first Hall sensor is turned on, and then stopped, and the standby operation is performed after the driving motor is stopped.
 




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Cited references

REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description